Quit Tinkering, Tiger, And Just Play

The lead story for every golf publication, website and Golf Channel program heading into the Farmers Insurance Open was that Tiger Woods was going to begin his season. After the tournament, in which he tied for 44th, and the subsequent roller-coaster performance in Dubai, the biggest story was that the former world’s No. 1 had gone 15 months without a victory – an eternity for Woods. One has to wonder when each event will no longer become newsworthy.

The Tiger Woods who has been on display for the last year is a shallow image of the dominant figure he once was. His game is scattered with no consistent area to build on.

Arnold Palmer has gone on record saying the constant tinkering has ruined Woods’ natural ability to swing a golf club. Palmer’s opinion is generationally related. Palmer never had a coach, minus his father. Like most golfers of his day, players learned from a relative or friendly course employee and then went and played. But his comment is valid. While there is an argument to be made that if one isn’t getting better one is getting worse, sometimes the best way to improve is to leave alone what is not broken. Others may agree.

Brian Mogg, the swing guru for PGA champion Y.E. Yang and AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro Am winner D.A. Points, has built a thriving business on ignoring “theory” and embracing solid swing fundamentals. It’s much like hitters in baseball. Sometimes it’s better just to see the pitch and hit it. Perhaps Woods needs to be more Vlad Guerrero than Cal Ripken.

For the last decade, Woods has hidden behind swing and coaching changes whenever his performance doesn’t match his lofty standards. In his mind, it seems, his problems have never been internal but the result of faulty theory. Woods does need to make changes, but not to his swing. He just needs to play more.

He admitted as much himself during a press conference at Torrey Pines: “It’s easy to do it at home on the range. Then you have to do it on the golf course at home, and then once you’re able do it there, now you have to do it out here.”

Woods can no longer afford the luxury of playing a part-time schedule revolving around the majors. He needs to be out there week in and week out making the most of his decreased practice time.

He also needs to get his head in order. At his post-therapy new conference, Woods said he needed to become a new man. One can’t say what that means in a private sense, but in public not much has changed. He is still cussing, slamming clubs and now spitting on greens.

Tiger is a long way from recovering his game and won’t until he begins to take responsibility for his failures both on the course and off.

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