Golf Tips Interview- What should Tiger do next?

May 21st, 2010No Comments

Golf Tips Magazine interviewed me on what Tiger Woods should do next to get his game back. Below is an expert out of the article that will appear in the July/August issue.

1. If you were Tiger’s coach, what would you advise him to do? How would you advise him to change his swing? What does he need to get his game back on track?

This is no time to press the panic button. Tiger is so talented that he went out with minimal preparation and placed fourth in the Masters. First, Tiger needs to take inventory of his physical body. He needs to be honest with himself and his future coach on how healthy he is as it pertains to his knee, neck, and Achilles tendon. Next, develop a plan for the next 5-7 years that takes into account his physical issues and his ultimate goal; surpass Jack Nicklaus’ major record. I think Tiger will play even fewer tournaments in the coming years to preserve his body and stay fresh. This is a time for Tiger to reinvent himself both as a man and golfer. We have all known Tiger as a power player, however I think he will become known as the total golfer and learn to dissect courses with playing the “right shot” instead of over powering a course. When Tiger first came out on tour one of his weaknesses was his inconsistent distance control with his wedges. He then learned to dial down the aggressive swings he made and learned to play these wedges at 70% effort. He then became very good at those shots. I would like to see him take that same attitude to his longer clubs to improve his sequence and keep his arms and body in sync. Swinging within himself, especially with the driver will improve his consistency and minimize the big miss.

2. How do you compare Tiger’s swing today to when he held all four majors at once? Any specific swing aspect you would like to see him to improve on?

I preferred Tiger’s swing in 2000-2001 stretch. His arm plane was a little more upright on the backswing and he kept the club in front of him better on the downswing. He played a soft cut with his driver and rarely missed it both ways. Haney’s philosophy is to promote more forearm rotation on the backswing and forward swing. Unfortunately, I believe that caused the club face to open up on the backswing and he had to rotate the forearms through impact to square the club face back up. The problem with the new swing is that it required more timing to get the hip rotation, arm plane, and club face back to square at impact. Tiger still has very fast hips and with his arm plane flatter on the backswing it promoted an under plane downswing causing both pushes and snap hooks. I would like to see the older version of arms higher on backswing, less arm rotation, and hitting a little cut.

3. Tiger is struggling more and more with the driver. Why?

Tiger’s arm plane has lowered which promotes more draws, however with his aggressive hip speed he would drop the club even flatter on the downswing causing him to get stuck more often than in the early 2000’s. Add that with his head dropping and you have a recipe for getting stuck and either pushing the ball right or overcompensating with the hands and flipping the club face closed causing a hook.

4. Do you think Tiger came back too soon? Should he take the rest of the year off?

If Tiger’s neck was truly hurt, then he did come back too soon. However, the only way to get your game back is to play again. He probably felt he needed the normalcy of playing golf again to get some control back in his life. Getting back to playing golf was more for his personal health than his golf career.

5. Tiger has been the game’s most mentally tough player, probably ever. Do you think he’ll regain his old form? What does he need to do to do that?

As a junior his father was training Tiger to deal with anything that could potentially get in the way of his performance. Tiger will figure it out mentally. As a mental coach I stress routines and rituals. It is important for Tiger to find a practice ritual that gets him mentally, emotionally, and physically prepared to compete. He needs to go back to mastering the process of each shot. I think there was a part of him in his comeback that wanted to prove to everyone that he could overcome his personal turmoil. I would advise him to get back to doing the things he knows will get him back and not care what others are thinking. He played his best when he played in a cocoon. His agent and others may want him to be a nicer version, but I disagree. What makes him a great competitor is being so focused on playing golf that he is not focused on being nice to the gallery. It sounds harsh, but for him to play his best, his intensity and drive needs to be high and if he is consciously trying to be different will negatively affect his performance. He knows how he needs to be mentally and emotionally to be at his best. He needs to get back to those routines before and during competition to keep his edge.

6. Tiger’s “problems” are certainly both personal and professional. How do you think he’s handled himself so far? What do you think he should have done differently?

It is always easy to say he should have done things differently. I think his “handlers” waited too long to have Tiger respond. I also think the “rehabilitation” was not his idea and he hid behind it to gain sympathy instead of coming out early showing he was responsible and he made those decisions. It would have accelerated the comeback process and he could have comeback sooner to competitive golf. With his world upside down he needs routine and what he knows, that is golf. He is in a no win situation when he talks about making changes because he will constantly be under the microscope.

7. There’s been a lot of talk about Tiger regaining his “Tiger Slam” swing. First is that even possible? Second, is that the best thing for his game?

I think there are elements of the Tiger Slam swing that will help him; however his body has changed considerably since then. His injuries and the added muscle will create different challenges for his swing. He needs to minimize the two-way miss with his driver. I would like to see him go back to hitting a soft fade with the driver by having his arm plane a little higher on the backswing and less forearm rotation throughout the swing.

8. What do you think Tiger’s next move should be?

I think he should go back to basics after developing a long term plan. He shouldn’t get caught up in fixing everything now. Play his normal schedule through the end of the year and reevaluate his game in October to prepare for 2011. He can still win in 2010, but don’t do a major overhaul. Who he picks as his next coach will be important, but Tiger knows his game and will ultimately create the swing he thinks will get him back better than ever.

9.With all the turmoil that’s happened in his “annus horribilis” do you think that he’ll be able to get back on track and break Nicklaus’ record?

Yes, I think he will break Nicklaus’ record. He is still young and will use this personal challenge to motivate him to even greater heights. I would be surprised if he won at Pebble, but not surprised if he won at St. Andrews where the landing areas are wider and the greens slower. He will get back to being single minded and do everything he can to break that record.

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