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Ben Hogan's Limited Schedule Is Not the Answer for Tiger Woods

MIAMI, FL - MARCH 11:  Tiger Woods watches his tee shot on the ninth hole during the final round of the World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship on the TPC Blue Monster at Doral Golf Resort And Spa on March 11, 2012 in Miami, Florida.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
Scott Halleran/Getty Images
Mike LynchContributor IIIMarch 16, 2012

Tiger Woods appears to no longer be capable of playing anything close to a full schedule.  He has had significant injury problems in four of his last five seasons.  

In 2008, he had surgery for a torn ACL in his left knee following the US Open.  In 2010, he had to withdraw from the Players Championship with a neck injury.  Last season he missed the US and British Open with an Achilles injury.  This year he has strained that very same Achilles, though it does not appear to be severe.

More alarming is the concentration of injuries to his left leg.  He has had multiple knee surgeries, the most serious being the ACL reconstruction in 2008.  Now he has hurt the Achilles tendon in consecutive seasons.

Ben Hogan was severely injured in a 1949 car crash.  It left him with permanent leg injuries caused mainly by a lack of circulation.  Doctors were skeptical that he would walk again, let alone play golf.  Hogan went on to win six majors in nine starts from 1950-1953.  The most tournaments he would play in a season from 1950 onward was seven.

Hogan proved that it is possible to be a dominant figure despite a very limited schedule.  However, Tiger Woods cannot adapt this same strategy and expect to succeed.  

Ben Hogan had a unique temperament in which he valued practice more so than actual tournaments.  He was driven by a perfectionist desire to control the flight of a golf ball.  Hitting a shot and having it do exactly what he wanted was what kept Hogan going.  Winning tournaments was a byproduct of his pursuit of perfection within the golf swing. 

Tiger Woods is not like this.  His goal is to win tournaments.  He is unable to replicate tournament pressure in practice sessions.  This is obvious when he talks about the need for tournament reps.

Hogan succeeded because there was no difference to him over a practice shot or a tournament shot.  He put in the same amount of preparation into each.  His goal was the same in each. His issue with tournaments was mainly the amount of walking.  The swing itself was not a problem despite the condition of his legs.  He could practice hitting shots without having to worry about the risk of injury.

While it may seem logical to suggest that Tiger Woods play a schedule like Hogan, it is not a good solution.  Woods would not be prepared for tournament play under the circumstances.  Hogan was perhaps the only golfer in history who could have played that schedule and retain maximum form.

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