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Friday, May 7, 2010

He Found Something...

Everybody has been soooo worried about poor Tiger. Last week he had pretty much the worst round of his career, and everybody wrote him off. Good ol' Johnny Miller (who I still enjoy hearing sometimes) stuck his foot in his mouth by telling the world that Tiger needed to go back to his 2000-2001 swing, Brandel Chamblee complained that Hank Haney had him "laying off" the club too much, and basically everybody has said -- in one form or another -- that Tiger really needs to rebuild his swing if he wants to play good golf again.

I told my friends that hey, Tiger's been here before, he'll figure something out.

The word is that Tiger told Pat Perez a couple of days ago that "he found something" on the range. Granted, he didn't blister the course Thursday, but he tied the best first round he's ever had at TPC Sawgrass. He's never shot better than 70 in the first round, and he's never had a bogey-free round at all there... but had it not been for a bad hop on the 18th, which put his drive in the water, he would have had a bogey-free 69, the best of his career. Not only that, but he scored as well as Phil... and both are only 4 shots off the lead.

Do I expect Tiger to win this week? No. But this should remind us of a very basic truth about golf:

Even the best players have bad days. Tiger, as he and several others have pointed out, has only played 6 rounds in 6 months -- certainly not the best way to get in shape for big tournaments. And have Johnny and the other guys forgotten that Tiger has won with 3 or 4 different golf swings during his relatively short career? The guy can figure out how to play with virtually any old swing he finds laying around the course.

You're gonna have bad days, folks. And unless your game has absolutely sucked up until that time, you should ignore everybody who tells you that your swing needs rebuilding. If history teaches us anything, it's that almost any swing will work if you practice hard enough. I try to teach you swings that don't take a lot of practice, but guys like Tiger and Phil have hours and hours of spare time to do their job. I wouldn't worry about them.

As for your game, I'll be trying to teach you how to tell what kind of swing you have and what kind the teachers you hear on TV are teaching, so you can tell who can help you and who'll just mess you up.

In the meantime, take heart. Tiger found something. The world won't end...

At least, not until the end of 2012. Don't even get me started on that one...


  1. I agree. When I started hearing the commentators say Haney was to blame for Tiger missing the cut, I thought they off base. Tiger doesn't need to change swing coaches, he needs to hire a mental coach. Tiger isn't used to the distraction of his personal life and that is hurting his swing. Hire Bob Rotella instead of firing Hank Haney.

  2. I don't even know if he needs Rotella, Patrick. My theory is that, when you're in emotional turmoil -- and that certainly describes Tiger right now, whether he would use those words or not -- it screws up anything that has to do with your feelings... and that includes the timing of your swing. Sometimes your life get so out-of-whack that you just need to focus on fixing it and let your game do what it will. Once he gets some balance back, I think his game will straighten out.

    But I think you're right. Did you know that ESPN's SportsNation polled their viewers and found that nearly 2/3 of them thought Tiger was more likely to win than miss the cut this weekend? It seems the only people who think Tiger needs to change swing coaches are the commentators.

  3. Isn't it funny that under Haney, Tiger says "I found something on the range." With Butch, it was always a team effort and as soon as whatever they were working on clicked, the first thing he did was call Butch.

  4. You may know more about this, Court, but I'm under the impression that Butch called the shots in that relationship -- he decided what fit Tiger best, and then Tiger did it. It seems to me that Tiger went to Hank because Tiger decided he wanted to play this way, and he only goes to Hank when he needs specific feedback. I think he said Thursday that he was talking to Hank almost everyday, but that sounds more like Tiger telling Hank what he's doing rather than Hank telling him what to do.

  5. Just my opinion based on what I know about Butch...he has the pedigree and experience to work with guys like Tiger, Phil, Ernie, et al. His father won the Masters and passed his experience on to his sons.

    He started working with Tiger when he was 15 or 16 and taught him how to depend on the fundamentals. (even when he was the #1 player in the world, Butch would start their lesson time with grip, stance, and posture before anything)

    I've seen Butch teach, and while he teaches everybody the same fundamentals, he doesn't try to make everybody's swing look the same. (Adam Scott copied Tiger's swing on his own)

    I agree with you on Haney, and even though I'm sure Tiger respects Haney's eye, it just seems that he trusted and respected Butch completely.

    Watching Haney on the "Hank Haney Project", I don't think I would want to take lessons from the guy.

    If you're looking for a really good book - pick up Butch's book about his Dad called "The Pro". He tells all kinds of great stories about his dad and a lot of the people he came across.

  6. I saw a TV show where Butch talked a lot about his dad, shortly before Dick Harmon died. That family seems to have been awfully close.

    I've read some of Butch's book, "Four Cornerstones of Winning Golf." Like you said, he's got a lot of different swings in his stable, and all those guys seem to feel comfortable working with him despite their different swings. I think that's a mark of a good teacher, being able to work with so many swings and help them all without changing the good parts.