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Thursday, June 26, 2014

Now Playing... Tiger!

Yes, the golf world can finally exhale. Tiger is back and, based on his play in the Quicken Loans National pro-am, he's healthy. His swing may need a bit more work, but he's healthy.

And that's the good news we were all waiting for.

Tiger at presser on Tuesday

I guess every golf reporter on the planet was eager to see how he played at the pro-am, and by most reports he was just what he said he was... rusty. Sean Foley was on the course with him in case he needed help. He lost several shots to the right early on, but "found something" during his second nine and started playing better. (According to ESPN, he said his grip had gotten a bit too weak. Simple fix.) His short game was apparently very sharp.

The biggest worry for most fans was what would happen when he hit balls in the rough, which Tiger is wont to do quite frequently. We all got the answer pretty quick -- Tiger hit a few into the thick stuff and pounded them out without any bad reactions at all. More good news!

Tiger goes out early today -- at 8:12am ET -- which will give him the max amount of rest between the first two rounds. Was that just a fortunate coincidence? I doubt it. I think it's fair to say that the organizers have done everything they can to make Tiger's unexpected early return as easy on his still-recovering body as possible.

And, I might add, I don't think anybody minds if he gets a little extra star treatment this week. Not even his fellow competitors, most of whom seem thrilled to see him back and healthy. GC reported that a large number of pros came up to say "hi" to him on the range Wednesday, and they saw him talking for quite a while with Jason Bohn, who has had the same surgery.

As for what changes he and Foley have made to his swing -- in his presser Wednesday, Tiger said they weren't particularly noticeable to the naked eye -- I haven't seen enough footage to be sure. It's pretty clear that he's shortened his swing for now, and it looked to me as if his finish might be a bit higher than before. That makes sense to me, as a more upright swing would allow him to rotate a bit less while using his lats a little more to make up for the lost power. (Those are the big muscles on the outside of your back that give you a V shape, in case you don't know.)

In addition, one of GC's analysts said Tiger's hips are sliding more toward the target during his downswing -- a move I suspect will become less blatant as he gets used to the changes. (My best guess? He's trying to get his right shoulder around a little higher at impact and his leg drive hasn't quite adapted to the slightly different motion.)

All-in-all, if these three changes are accurate and not just inconsistent moves because he's rusty, they should help him stand taller throughout his swing and not "crunch" his lower back.

At any rate, we should get to see some of his play today although it will probably be replay footage. (He'll be finished today before the broadcast window.) And tomorrow we should get plenty of live Tiger. GC begins their broadcast at 2:30pm ET today and tomorrow.

The photo came from this article.

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