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Saturday, April 11, 2015

Assessing Tiger's New Game

Rich Lerner at GC said he talked to someone from Tiger's camp on Friday before Tiger went out for his round, and Rich said Tiger & Co. are expecting good things this summer.

Tiger Woods

It's easy to see why if you look over his first couple of rounds. Tiger has posted two rounds of 73-69 to put him at -3 (T19). Friday was his first sub-70 round since the 2014 Open. That's not bad for someone who hasn't even been able to finish a tournament for several months. And in any normal year at the Masters, he'd probably be in contention.

If you've read Ruthless Putting, you probably know I'm not too surprised that Tiger got his short game fixed in short order. Yips aren't so intimidating once you realize they're just an attempt to micromanage your swing, and Tiger's explanation that he was caught between release patterns is one way you can interfere with your natural motion. Tiger just went out and worked on it until he cleared up the confusion.

As I mentioned yesterday, all that short game work was at the expense of his long game practice, so in Friday's round he throttled back on his desire to crush the ball -- he only averaged 272 yards off the tee -- and just focused on moving it around to the right positions. That's a reasonable decision, given that he's not going to fix it all this week. As a result, he made 4 birdies and only 1 bogey to move himself well above the cutline.

For both rounds total, Tiger has posted 5 bogeys and 7 birdies. NO BIG NUMBERS, which is pretty impressive after his struggles of the last few months. He's managed to play the par-5s in 4-under -- again, pretty impressive after his struggles.

I'll be interested to see what Tiger does today and tomorrow. He's got the ability to drive the ball farther than 270 and still keep it under control, given his club head speed. He just needs to relax and trust his swing because he's got a good-looking move when he doesn't try to swing out of his shoes. With his short game back on track and his putting looking pretty good, he should still be capable of creating some fireworks.

Of course, today Tiger is paired with Sergio. I guess we'll see fireworks one way or the other!

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