For the 3rd time in his last nine tournaments, Tiger Woods has withdrawn because of an apparent back injury. This time, Woods blamed the fog delay that pushed back the start of his round by more than two hours. Or maybe it was because Woods was +2 thru 11 holes and +15 thru his last 47 holes. Woods is out of excuses. He’s withdrawn so often lately, we don’t know whether he’s really hurt or if it’s just his pride that’s injured.
Despite the fact Woods chipped in for par on his 2nd hole of the day (No. 11), he continued to exhibit signs of the short game woes he experienced at the Phoenix Open when he missed the cut. I reported last week after talking to the Golf Channel’s Curt Byrum that Woods was suffering from the short game yips, an actual condition resulting in the apparent loss of fine motor skills without explanation.
From time to time, I receive emails from Top 100 Instructor Todd Sones. Todd is a PGA Professional who works outside of Chicago. He’s currently a consultant for the Golf Academy of America, and it was while I was out visiting him for a putting lesson this fall that I really decided to pursue a career in golf at the Academy. I really believe in his putter fitting system and his teaching principles. He’s a real short game guru. Here is an excerpt from an instructor’s perspective at toddsones.com:
“Can Tiger’s seemingly short game yips be fixed? Unequivocally, YES, YES, YES, YES. First, let me say that the word mental is part of the word fundamental. No doubt a simplistic view, but I am simple minded. If anyone watched what happened to Tiger on Thursday and Friday at the Waste Management Open in Phoenix it was unconscionable. To watch what used to be one of the most gifted players with arguably one of the best short games under pressure of all time be reduced to what we all witnessed was nearly unbelievable. It would be easy to conclude it was all in his head, he has lost his confidence, he has the short game yips, there is no going back, etc., etc. I don’t see it that way at all. What I saw was a player who has changed what used to be very good short game fundamentals, to at best, very poor fundamentals. Whether Tiger knows it or not, he has developed fundamental problems in finesse shots around the green.”
Todd goes on to say that fundamental problems can make anyone mental, even tour players. He says that the yips are part of the game, but that ultimately, they are the result of fear. When your brain knows what’s coming next isn’t good, you’ll fear it.
Todd’s blog is always good, but today’s post is even more meaningful because I think at some level, we can all relate to what Tiger’s going through. Todd thinks if Tiger gets his clubhead descending through impact instead of ascending that he can and will ascend out of his current funk. I don’t admire Tiger Woods the man, but I do admire Tiger Woods the golfer. And I don’t what to see his career end like this.