Tiger Woods missed the cut of the 115th US Open this year with an aggregated score of 156 after the first two rounds. This was the highest 36-hole score by Woods at a major championship yet.
He struggles. He really struggles hard to find his game.
Meanwhile the media goes totally bonkers tearing their former superstar apart. Comments like “He’s done!”, “He should quit golf!”, “He’ll never win a tournament, above all a major, again!” are common.
It’s the old media game. People cheer you on when you are winning but clap the loudest when you are down. It’s interesting to see how the media coverage and public opinion of Tiger made a complete u-turn since Tigergate in 2009/2010.
Everyone and their dog has an opinion about Tiger and his game and many are not very positive. It feels to me that Woods arrived at a breaking point in his career – again.
Personally I wish him all the best, that he manages to bounce back and shuts them all up – just because he can. :-)
When you take a look at the footage from the mishits at the 2015 Memorial Tournament and US Open you’ll recognize the pattern which Tiger is trying to fix.
His longer tee shots have a two way miss, his irons miss distance control and are sometimes (depending on the lie) a little erratic too. Plus he seems to have problems chipping towards elevated greens.
Tiger knows all this and is working on his game every day. Most of his mishits happen because his swing bottoms out before he hits the ball (fat shots).
He says that’s because of his swing changes he’s working on with Chris Como. He wants his angle of attack into the ball to be a lot shallower than it was with Sean Foley.
Here’s a short interview of Tiger, captured after playing at the Memorial Tournament this year.
Why Doesn’t He Just Fix His Game?
What baffles people more than anything is how a player like Tiger can’t fix his own swing faults asap or at least play around them. He’s been holding a golf club before he could walk, right?
Well even the best and most experienced players can’t fight nature. Dealing with the golf swing is dealing with motion and motor skills. There are no short cuts even for the best. You’ve got to make the repetitions to ingrain new movements and change old behavior.
If you change your golf swing you shake up your system and movement patterns which usually leads to worse results before you get any better.
People expect that the learning curve for golf should be linear when in reality it’s more like a staircase. (As a side note: If you turn the “real curve” on its head you have the usual development of the handicap of a player who practices regularly.)
And this learning curve is also true for professional players like Tiger who are working on their game at a higher level.
Moreover golf is a game of margins and percentages. You simply can’t expect to reach a certain level of skill and keeping that skill forever, playing like a robot.
Small changes that are ingrained in your swing can lead to big results. “Small hinges swing big doors.” is just as true in golf.
In my opinion Tiger is still in the middle of mastering his swing changes. Caught somewhere between his old and new swing.
The added pressure of public tournaments most likely shake up his system even more. Which leads us to his mental game.
Where’s The Old Tiger? Has He Lost His Iron Will To Win?
You can’t deny that Tigers body language didn’t scream confidence in the recent tournaments he played in. But on the other hand – who are we kidding? If you shoot your ball into the rough or water you aren’t excited either.
Confidence is a curious thing. Competence and good results breed confidence and the other way around. Winning makes you confident and loosing makes you doubt what you are doing.
Tiger had some of his worst rounds of professional golf in his career. He’s probably confronted with doubt and negative opinions like he was in 2010.
It’s impossible to block the whole word from your mind even if you are very strong mentally. So the best chance for Tiger is to get back in contention to rekindle his flame.
It’s somewhat of a dilemma, because he’s fighting a uphill battle against his own mind and his game. But he has succeeded before which makes it more likely that he will succeed again.
What Can You Learn From Tiger’s Struggle?
Golf can be a very humbling game even for the best professional players on earth. But it can be a very rewarding journey as well – if you learn how to deal with setbacks, struggles and mental stress.
You’ve got to remember that it always gets worse before it gets better.
You’ve got to know your weaknesses so you can play around them when it counts and work to eliminate them when you’ve got the time to practice.
And when all is said and done you just need to hit the little white ball and enjoy the game.