Archive for March 2011
There was no fist pump, hat throwing or roar from the gallery this time around. As Tiger Woods made his way up the 18th hole on Sunday afternoon at Bay Hill, the fans following the fifth ranked player in the world were decidedly subdued, as they waited for Woods to hit his final approach shot before the Masters.
Only it wasn’t his last approach. Instead, Woods fanned his shot, watching as it disappeared out of sight for a split second before crash landing in the water hazard fronting the green. Woods had to reload before knocking his next shot on the green and making a double-bogey six to finish at one-under for the week, good enough for 24th place.
If Woods’ final approach shot was a sign of things to come as Woods nears his first major championship of the season, then maybe he’d be better off spending the week at home. I’m kidding, of course … we all know Tiger will be at Augusta National next week, preparing for what lies ahead. But even with an extra week of practice, you have to wonder if there’s anything Tiger can do to right the ship before the opening round.
Like a roller coaster, Woods’ 2011 season has been a mixture of good and bad rounds that have left many fans wondering if he can even string a week of positive rounds together. Last week’s tournament at Arnie’s place was filled with some positives (Friday, first eagle since the Masters during Saturday’s third round) and a lot of negatives (Thursday and Saturday) that have to make you wonder if Tiger can live up to his 6-1 odds to win at Augusta.
Let’s be clear: Woods is no longer a sure thing to break Jack’s major championship record.The way he’s been playing recently makes you wonder if he’ll even win a major this season. People can talk all they want about Tiger and his ability to flip the switch, but the truth is, is that he’s had countless chances to flip that switch over the last couple of months, and every time he’s failed to produce.
Before the season Tiger was definitely a favorite to win at least one major this year. After the way he finished the 2010 season, playing brilliantly at the Target World Challenge and leaving many of us wanting more, it seemed like he’d come crashing out of the gates. But three months into the season all he’s done is leave us with a trail of questions to be answered.
Will Sean Foley’s swing ever work? How about his mental game? Can he juggle being a single parent and chasing Jack’s record? Has the pressure gotten to him? These are just a few of the burning questions that have been asked in recent months, and none of them are even close to being answered.
Say all you want about Tiger being a factor at the Masters because of his history at the tournament, but if you gave me 30-1 odds on Tiger to win the Masters at this very moment, I’d probably say no thanks and go pick someone like Nick Watney or Dustin Johnson to get the job done. I’m that confident about his game.
File this under the something you don’t see every day headline: a professional golfer used an iPhone app to fix his putting stroke. No, I’m not kidding, English golfer Anthony Wall, who last won 11 years ago on the European Tour, was in need of a putting tip. While a couple of putting tips from former tour player Tony Johnstone had helped him gain some confidence in his stroke, there was still something missing.
Enter Dave Stockton’s iPhone app. After spending 99 cents on the app, Wall took some of Stockton’s tips to heart, and suddenly something just clicked. He fired a bogey-free four-under 67 on Friday to take a two-shot lead at the Sicilian Open.
“That is the best 59 pence (95 cents) I have ever spent because his tips have really simplified a few things for me,” Wall said after the second round.
“I have just been looking at the low side of every putt for the last two days — really concentrating on the last third of the putt as opposed to the whole putt — and that has definitely helped me. I haven’t holed everything but I have hit my putts a lot better.
“It was a bargain, I have to say — you don’t get many valuable lessons for 59 pence these days! The thing about Dave Stockton is that he is and always was an amazing putter, and you tend to listen to those guys a bit more.”
I guess even pro golfers can get something out of golf tips on their iPhone. My only question is this: If he ends up winning the tournament, will he send Stockton a portion of the winners’ check for helping him win? After listening to Wall’s success, maybe we should all should consider spending 99 cents to put the app on our phone.
The above photo tells you all you need to know about today’s first round of the WGC-Cadillac at Doral: It was a slog. A thunderstorm cell ripped through the area just 30 minutes after play had started and delayed things for a while; crews were then forced to clean up the carnage from wind gusts upwards of 50 miles per hour.
The storm knocked over a television tower and leaderboard near the 18th green. Thankfully, nobody was hurt … except for the golf course, which promptly got ripped to shreds by the players in the field just after the weather delay was over. Hunter Mahan was 7-under after 11 holes when play was called due to darkness; seven other players were two shots back at 5-under, including new number one Martin Kaymer and Matt Kuchar. And your obligatory Tiger Woods update for the day: he’s was one-under with three holes to go.
As Hank Haney and Butch Harmon can tell you, being Tiger Woods’ swing coach comes with a whole new set of rules of regulations that most coaches don’t have to live by. One of the biggest changes is the media interest, good or bad, that is suddenly part of your every day life.
While Sean Foley was able to deflect most of the questions and talk early on, Woods’ recent run of poor form has the sharks in the water sniffing for blood. And boy does Foley realize what’s going on, because he’s getting mighty defensive with the media and some of his prize pupils biggest detractors. In a recent interview with Golf Canada, Foley went after a number of talking heads and former players who recently tried to poke holes in the Foley swing.
“They don’t know the truth,” Foley said in the interview. “They don’t even have a clue. They just wait until he hits one to the right, then put it on the bizhub (a slow-motion camera) and slow it down. But he might not have committed to the club. He might not have trusted where the wind is and so on.”
Not a clue, huh? I understand Tiger isn’t there just yet, but why not just let the swing speak for itself? I guess Foley feels the need to defend his swing — especially when there are still stories out there questioning if he’s using the Stack and Tilt principles with Woods. That’s an old story, but I’m pretty I’d be defending my player’s honor if rumors like that were floating around.
But that wasn’t even the best part of the interview. Foley also called out Golf Channel’s Brandel Chamblee and questioned his knowledge of Woods’ swing, right before he used Tiger’s made cuts to finish off the former pro.
“The crap that these guys are writing – golfchannel.com and all these different avenues of pure judgment on Tiger,” Foley said.
“When did (Golf Channel analyst) Brandel Chamblee and (NBC’s) Johnny Miller and guys like that forget how hard golf is when you have conflict and you don’t have clarity?
“Brandel Chamblee made 180 out of 398 cuts on the PGA Tour (in his playing days). Like, when did this become so easy for him? That’s like 43 per cent. You’re talking about a guy (Woods) who’s missed six cuts in his life. It’s just sensational. That’s what they do.”
That’s what we look to call a “burn,” folks. I don’t think there’s anything Chamblee can say to come back from those comments. It’s clear Foley has some pent-up anger, and a lot of that has to do with being in a situation he’s never experienced before. With a high-profile player like Woods in his stall, he’s going to take criticism like this until Tiger wins. One victory and a lot of the criticism goes away.
It’s official: Tiger Woods has decided to make Doral his next tour stop, passing over a chance to get more reps at this week’s Honda Classic to take care of some “existing commitments.” Doral is pretty predictable when you look at how Woods has gone about things in the past. Sure, he may say things are different now, but he continues to stick to his guns and play the same tournaments he played in the past.
While media outlets continue to announce his next tour stop (including this site), you have to wonder when people are going to wise up and just shrug their shoulders when he adds his name to the field. It used to be that Tiger playing a tour event was a big deal. Considering how few tournaments he played per year, every time he teed it up seemed to be a cause for celebration for the fans, and the network that was lucky enough to broadcast his event.
But since his game has gone into a tailspin, his “aura”, as Rory McIlroy called it in his recent SI article, has disappeared. Tiger announcing his next tournament no longer seems like a cause for discussion; it really just seems like a way to fill space and discuss a golfer that continues to disappoint with a new swing and a fragile psyche.
So the big question is: should we even give Tiger his own article when he announces his next event? Probably not. Assuming he gets things in order, then maybe we start talking about his tournaments like we used to in the past. For now, I just don’t see the point. Maybe it’d be better if we just let Tiger do his own thing and took the spotlight off of him for awhile. Yeah right, like that would ever happen.