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Saturday, November 12, 2011

He's Still Got a Ways to Go

Some will say he's trying too hard. Some will say he gets overconfident. Some will say he's just washed up.

But do you know what's happening? Tiger Woods is simply learning to play golf. He's going through the same process each of us goes through. The problem is that he's doing it in front of millions of TV viewers.

Here's the deal: When Tiger was changing his swing with Butch, he already had a swing that worked. People forget that. When you learn (or relearn) to swing, you often revert to your old swing. Tiger's old swing still worked, so his "bad" swings still gave him good results.

When Tiger was changing his swing with Hank, he already had a (second) swing that worked. People forget that. As before, Tiger's old swing still worked so his "bad" swings still gave him good results.

Then Tiger's leg exploded. In his own words, "I couldn't get in those positions anymore." For the first time in his adult life, Tiger was forced to change his swing. And since his "bad" swing really is a bad swing, he gets a bad result when he reverts to it.

Is it any wonder that Tiger wants to work on his swing in private, rather than in a golf tournament? Wouldn't you?

He's actually made some incredible progress, now that he's healthy enough to practice. He seems to be in a good frame of mind, excepting the fact that he's simply not there yet. (I'd also point out that his playing partner scored no better. It can be hard to score well when you're both struggling.) And I suspect he'll play well at the President's Cup next week because one bad hole in match play doesn't throw you several strokes behind.

But those of you struggling to improve your golf swing should take heart. There's nothing wrong with you. Even with all his talent and all his experience, Tiger Woods can't find a shortcut to success. If it takes time for him to come back, even with a well-paid task force to monitor every detail of his diet and exercise, and with hours a day to spend in physical and mental practice sessions, you shouldn't get depressed because your game seems to improve slowly. Just hang in there; it's only a matter of time.

At least you don't have to practice in front of several thousand fans with TV cameras recording every mis-hit shot. Be thankful for small blessings! ;-)

Oh, and one more thing. Perhaps this whole process has been good for Tiger. After his round he stopped to talk to the media. He answered the questions and even smiled during the interview. Can you imagine him doing that even a year ago? And then they showed him working on the range. He was (as usual) surrounded by people watching him practice, and he was actually smiling and chatting with the onlookers between shots! Has he ever done that?

Regardless of what you may think of the Sean Foley method or Tiger's struggles on the course, it appears that Tiger is learning some very important things during this time... and not all of them have to do with swinging a golf club. He may be making much more progress than we ever imagined.

And that's a very good thing indeed.

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