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Saturday, June 6, 2015

I Ask Again... Should We Worry about Tiger?

As you no doubt know by now, Tiger made the cut at Jack's Place -- right on the number (-1, T64) but he'll get a couple more competitive rounds under his belt because of it. That's good for fans as well as for Tiger.

Tiger at Jack's PlaceIf you look at his rounds by nines, his scores are up and down -- 40-33, 33-37. I thought Jack's observation -- that he shot 40 to start the Masters that he won by 12 strokes -- was kinda funny, given how perplexed the analysts are by his uneven play. Their questions keep mounting:
  • Will Tiger ever be competitive again?
  • What's wrong with his swing?
  • He fixed his short game in a few weeks. Why can't he fix that wayward driver?
And the debates about his future continue.

Golf fans -- both media types and everyday fans -- tend to forget that, a little over a year ago, Tiger Woods was flat on his back, debating whether he should have back surgery and wondering if he would ever be able to play with his kids again. NOT play golf, just play with his kids!

It's true that Tiger has successfully rebuilt his swing many times, but each time it was a planned rebuild. He decided what results he wanted, what kind of changes he needed to make to get them, and which teacher could best help him achieve his goals. He did it often enough that he could even give you an estimate of how long it would take.

But this time is different. This time the swing changes weren't planned -- they were forced by circumstances he hadn't anticipated. This time it wasn't a question of what kind of changes he wanted to make; rather, it was a question of what kind of changes he COULD make. And then he tried to come back too quickly, before his body had adequately healed, simply because he was in unexplored territory and was learning about his new situation as he went.

And, understandably so, making mistakes.

All things considered, Tiger's game looks pretty good to me. Now that he seems to be healthy he's starting to play some good nines -- really good nines, given those two 33s so far this week -- and they're scattered in amongst some really uneven play, which you'd expect from someone who hasn't been healthy or played much competitive golf for a year or so. The fact that we're seeing flashes of brilliance so soon after such dramatic physical problems is encouraging to me. After all, I'm on record that I think Tiger will get back to what he once was.

Scoring-wise, that is. Of course the way he gets those scores is going to be different, after all the physical problems he's had to deal with, but I still think he'll get back there.

And what does Tiger think?

Well, Tiger says he's on the right track -- even his critics seem to agree with him there -- and just needs to play more. He gets his wish with two more rounds at the Memorial this weekend, in preparation for the US Open, and he's made it clear that he'll be playing much more frequently in the coming months. I can't wait to see how he does...

If for no other reason than to see the media struggle to explain something that seems very simple to me.

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