Fran’s take on the “New ” Tiger Woods:
As I write this article, Tiger Woods has now made his last 3 cuts on the PGA TOUR and has been in serious contention to win two of those events. The golfing world has come alive again with this recent great play!
After a major lumbar fusion back surgery, not too many people (including myself) thought he would ever compete again much less be able to win. Besides having surgery to relieve his constant back pain, there are some other reasons for his amazing comeback to the game. I do not claim to know his practice habits or what is going on inside his head but here are my observations from a distance:
Currently, he has decided to return to competition without an official “coach”. I think this is a very good decision on his part. It is my opinion that a lot of players are becoming overly coached and too technical. He has already learned all he needs to know about the game from a few of the world’s best coaches. He also knows his body better than anyone else and what it is capable of doing and not doing. As a result, he is playing more instinctively and I believe that has also helped his short game to return to a very high level again. I like to coach my students to “become their own coach” so they are able to adjust their game as needed, even mid-round while on the golf course. This ability to self-coach helps prevent further damage to your score during those times when it becomes a struggle.
I am only speculating here but my guess is that he is paying some attention to what Phil Mickelson is doing at age 47. Phil recently won and has been playing quite well. His approach seems to be, play more and practice full swings a bit less to prevent injury to the body. Just like Tiger, he already knows how to swing the club. At the PGA TOUR level, you must play with a lot of confidence. The confidence comes from success on the golf course much more than from the practice range. All the more reason for Tiger to play more and practice full swings less.
Although it may not be as large a contributing factor, I believe his switch to better golf equipment has had an effect. After Nike left the golf club business, Tiger was free to choose his next equipment deal. He signed with TaylorMade and this allowed him to ditch the Nike putter for the putter he won all but one of his majors with, the Scotty Cameron Newport 2 model. Having a trusted putter like that back in the bag can bring back good memories. If he is to win again, his putting will be the deciding factor.
During his post round interviews, Tiger has come close to tears which shows he still cares deeply about the game and the thrill of competition. While it is not known whether he will win again, this recent comeback has been quite remarkable and very inspirational. We will all be very curious to see if Tiger can tame the TPC Potomac at Avenel Farm championship golf course aka: “Beast of the Beltway”. Tiger has now confirmed that he will be playing right here at TPC Potomac in late June for the “National”. Mark your calendars to get a glimpse of golf greatness!