To all the pundits, legends, former champions, Brandel Chamblee and everyone else who believes Tiger Woods should ditch the swing changes he’s been working on with Sean Foley since August 2010, the former ace has this message: Been there, done that.
“Guys, I've done this before. I've been through this. Actually, a lot of you guys actually lived it with me, went through those periods where I wasn't quite where I wanted to be. I had some pretty good runs after that, and this is no different,” Woods told reporters Tuesday after arriving at TPC Sawgrass in advance of this week’s Players Championship. “It takes a little bit of time, and I keep building, and things eventually come around to where they feel natural and efficient.”
In fact, Woods claimed, the alterations he’s making under Foley’s tutelage have been easier to take to the course than those he deployed with previous coaches, Butch Harmon and Hank Haney. The major difference, he noted, has been the state of his body.
“I went for probably almost two years without doing much with Butch before [the fixes] kicked in, and about a year and a half with Hank,” Woods said. “With Sean it's been ... almost two years, but I've been hurt for a majority of that, so I haven't been able to put in the time.”
Woods conceded that he was not totally comfortable with what he needed to do to correct alignment and posture issues, but he “had a lot of time on the weekend” to get in his needed “reps,” after missing the cut at last week’s Wells Fargo Championship. Admitting he did not “enjoy” missing cuts, Woods also asserted that the MC at Quail Hollow and the problems at Augusta that resulted in his worst performance at The Masters as a professional were “no big deal.” In fact, he said, the lessons he learned from the experiences should be helpful in the long term.
“I've had to make some tweaks and some little bit of changes, but actually it's been very good,” said Woods. “Augusta was one of those things where it was just pretty glaring, some of the things I needed to work on, so get back to work and try and get ready for this week.”
The jury remains out on whether the missed cut (only the eighth of Woods’ career), errant swings and unplanned expanded practice time will yield “some pretty good runs” for the 14-time major champion, who ended a 30-month official winless drought last month at Bay Hill. TV analyst Chamblee, for one, believes there’s only one way for Woods to get back to the winner’s circle.
“Simply, he needs to fire Sean [and] call Butch,” Chamblee said in a conference call with the media prior to Woods’ presser on Tuesday. “I think that would get it done right there.”
Harmon “is all about rhythm,” which, according to Chamblee, Woods lacks at this point.
“He's literally lost the art of the game,” Chamblee said. “I think Butch could help him ... have more fun ... find the art in the game ... find the rhythm in the game, and ... he would be back to playing the type of golf that we know he can play.”
Woods, for his part, let the one-time PGA Tour winner know what he thought of his assessment.
“Everyone has an opinion, and he’s entitled to his,” Woods said. “But he’s no longer playing anymore, so, so be it.”
Woods also seemed amused by armchair shrinks who analyze his psyche while sifting through the tea leaves about his swing. Chamblee’s fellow broadcaster, Nick Faldo, wondered about the golfer’s confidence after Woods snap-hooked his first two tee shots at Augusta for fear of hitting them wide right.
“The real bottom line is for me, he just doesn't have the self-belief, the self-confidence that he obviously had, the Tiger of old,” Faldo said during the teleconference. “Simple as that.”
Rebuttal, Mr. Woods?
“I always find it interesting since [people are] not in my head,” Woods quipped. “They must have some kind of superpower I don't know about.”
Woods, who hopes to get in a full event this go-round at The Players, will tee it up with Hunter Mahan and newly crowned Wells Fargo champ and first-time winner Rickie Fowler in Thursday’s opening round. Tiger withdrew from the tourney with injuries for the second straight year in 2011.