Home' Australian Golf Digest : April 2018 Contents teacher He’s chipping around with Justin
Thomas and Rickie Fowler, and he’s playing
with Dustin Johnson. He used to avoid
almost all other players. He never wanted to
share too much with anybody. He was still
all cloak-and-dagger. He couldn’t go on that
way. That’s a lonely life. How does that help
him? Who wants to live like that? It’s great
for the other players to be with Tiger – what
a treasure chest of wisdom. So maybe he has
changed in a lot of ways.
major champion He’d been wearing
sunglasses a lot over the years because he
was afraid to look people in the eye. That
didn’t happen in the Bahamas. He has that
certain look again. He’s basically said, Hey,
I had a problem, I’ve faced it, and I feel like
people are [cheering] for me again. So I can
be myself. He always was somewhat of a
polarising figure. Older people didn’t like
him because he was dropping f-bombs on
television. But generally, Tiger is loved. Then
he fell. Now people are embracing him again.
And it’s great that guys like Rickie and Justin
Thomas are embracing him, too. But the
younger guys have never had a dose of the
old Tiger staring them down with that cold
look. There’s no defence for any player in golf,
but if there was, that’d be it. Tiger could play
defence with that glare. And it didn’t hurt
that he had more offence than anyone else.
former tour pro Once he was invincible;
now he must think dark thoughts: Oh, God,
I might lay the sod over this – a normal man’s
former tour pro He has so much scar
tissue from hitting some of the worst shots
you’ve ever seen. They linger.
tour caddie He’s fractured. All that stuff off
the golf course, that’s a big part of it. We’re all
cracked eggs, so to speak. I think he realises
that he is, too.
former tour pro It’s always amazed me
that a man with such mental strength and
courage always needed a coach to fall back
on. Maybe Tiger isn’t as sure of himself as we
teacher Now he’s on his own. So, to me, he’s
been in control all along. That stubbornness
made him great, but it’s also the thing that
will ruin him.
major champion Short-term memory and
confidence have to be pretty shaky for Tiger.
You talk to a psychologist, the short-term
memory is the stuff in the front of your head,
the hardest memories to replace. You hit bad
shots and lose your confidence, and then
you have to stand on a tee and hit a shot, and
your short-term memory is that you hit a bad
shot before. It’s fascinating. It’s about what
comes first, success or confidence?
major champion If he does arrive in
Augusta playing well, the expectation level
is going to be otherworldly. If that happens, I
almost feel sorry for him. It’s almost not fair
that someone would have to go through that
level of scrutiny. But if anyone has “earned”
it, it’s Tiger.
broadcaster I’ve been watching Tiger since
he was 18, and I would like to think he’ll go to
Augusta without too much hoo-ha, which is
probably impossible, and which surely won’t
major champion Between the first tee
and the 18th green, I think he’ll be fine. It’s
between the 18th green and the first tee that
he’ll face the biggest challenge.
multiple major champion So much of
what he had from a mental standpoint over
everybody else is gone. That puts you under
pressure from the start when you feel like
you can’t afford an errant drive or a three-
putt. That’s how they happen.
major champion One of the things I like
seeing is how he gets ticked over some bad
shots. He expects to play well. That tells me
something about where he thinks his game
tour winner When he was 10, he was the
best player in his group. When he was in high
school, in college, as a professional, he was
the best. That’s not the case now. How does
that affect him if he gets into contention?
former tour pro When Tiger was great, he
played with what he had on each given day;
Nicklaus was the same. They made the best
of every round. And that ability to adapt is so
essential at Augusta. The course throws you
curveballs every five minutes.
WILL HIS BODY HOLD UP?
teacher He looked like an old 41-year-old a
year ago. Now he looks like a young 42-year-
old. Much more athletic.
multiple winner on tour Every doctor I’ve
talked to about the operation Tiger has gone
through has said the same thing: fusing the
joints in his lower back, he will – over time –
put massive pressure on the joints higher up
his back. It’s a matter of time before those
joints break down. Then what does he do?
Now he’s fine for everyday life, but practising
and playing every day is impossible after a
while. Basically, his lower back doesn’t move.
It’s like having Botox down there. Is that
going to last?
tour pro/tv analyst Fusion means limited
mobility because you have put those two
discs together. You can’t go at it as hard
as you’d like – a lot of stress down there.
Now, after having watched him play, I was
so impressed and so surprised to see the
speed he had, the flexibility, the torque –
everything. Looked like there was a little
more of a stand-up at impact. Maybe a little
bit of an accommodation to that area [his
major champion His back is a big key in his
ability to hit controlled draws off the tee.
If he’s hurting, that ain’t going to happen.
teacher If his back holds up, Tiger holds up.
If it doesn’t, he’s done.
teacher One of his mistakes has been his
head going down and back as he came
into the ball. Now he has more of a Jimmy
Ballard-type finish going. He’s more upright.
That takes pressure off his back and is the
opposite of what his mistake tended to be.
One of the things he’s worked on is more of
an Annika Sorenstam-like follow-through,
letting his eyes follow the ball. That’s good
for protecting your back. His swing is going
to be OK.
broadcaster Don’t forget, he hadn’t played
72 holes in a full-field tournament since 2015
[before a T-23 at Torrey Pines]. More than two
years since he’d made a cut that mattered.
teacher What we don’t need to see is him
getting into a car claiming some real or
imagined injury. It’s always hard to know
former tour pro Only he knows why he’s
walked off so many times in the past few
years. Whatever, it’s a bad habit.
former tour pro In Dubai last year, he was
struggling to get himself out of the bunkers.
The message from Tiger’s camp was, “He’s
100 percent fit.” Then the next day we hear
that he can’t get out of bed. You can only
laugh and shake your head.
former tour pro I certainly don’t believe
his leg was broken when he won the ’08 US
Open. That’s rubbish. You can’t swing – never
mind win a Major – on a broken leg.
former tour pro I’m not saying he made
a massive misjudgment with his training. I
just think he wanted to be a big dude, which
multiple winner on tour I definitely
wouldn’t have an issue with his body if it was
teacher A lot of how well Tiger chips will also
depend on his back. To chip well, you need a
bit of leg action. When his back was sore, his
posture was poor and he didn’t use his legs
well. That caused him to overuse his hands.
multiple winner on tour When’s the last
time he had a chance of winning? Been a few
years, right? Well, he’s had all these surgeries,
his back is different, his body is different,
he’s older ... he has to get the feel for how his
body is going to react under pressure.
teacher His swing looks good, even if he’s
I’D LOVE TO SEE
TIGER HAVE A
CHANCE TO WIN –
AS LONG AS HE
DOESN’T BEAT ME.
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