Breaking Down What Tiger Woods Needs to Work on This Offseason
There are those who believe Tiger Woods will never again be the player he was when he dominated golf in the early 2000s.
And those people would be absolutely correct. Can you name one golfer who is as good in 2012 as he was in 2000? Highly unlikely that you can, but that doesn't mean Woods can't continue to be a very good player, even though time, injuries and his world crashing down around him in 2009 have complicated that process.
He's ranked No. 2 in the World Golf Rankings and has shown flashes of greatness over the last couple of years.
There is work to be done in his game, however, and I offer five suggestions of things he should work on before the 2013 season starts.
Stand Up and Drive Right
It all starts on the tee, an area of the course Tiger used to dominate. He bemoans the fact that he doesn't hit it as long as the youngsters do, and he’s right about that.
Twenty-three players average 300 yards or better (Bubba Watson is best at 315.5), but guess what, Tiger measured out at 297.4 yards.
Even my limited math skills tell me that he’s giving up about 18 yards per drive to Bubba but only eight yards or less to more than 20 of those guys ahead of him.
And his prowess with a mid to long iron in his hand, in my mind, makes those 18 yards virtually meaningless.
He ranked 36th in driving distance, but the more telling stat about his problems off the tee is that he hit just 63.93 percent of the fairways he aimed at. That’s 52nd among PGA Tour players.
He’s ranked seventh in total driving, and that’s very good.
But don’t you think a guy who hits a 3-wood as far as he does with that “stinger” could benefit from being in the fairway instead of the rough, or even worse, the trees?
Time for a Better Approach
This is one instance where numbers don’t lie.
On shots from 125-150 yards, Woods' shots averaged 22 feet, 6 inches from the hole. From 50-125 yards, the distance is a little better at 18'5''. How do those numbers rank? T69th and T87th, respectively.
And those rankings, boys and girls, are unacceptable.
There are all sorts of theories as to why his short-iron accuracy left the radar screen.
Some of them are that he’s compressing the ball too much, he hasn’t figured out the distances with his new swing and he hasn’t had time to work on the short game because he’s concentrated so much on the full swing.
Among the many things that separate PGA Tour players and 16-handicappers is the fact that they know the short irons are called scoring clubs for a reason.
And the best Tour players use these clubs to do damage on their scorecards. Improving short-iron accuracy should be at the top of Tiger’s homework list for the offseason.
Make the Ball Disappear
When Tiger Woods was the most dominant putter on the planet, you could have made a lot of money betting on “make or miss” with him on the greens. As the song says, however, that was then, this is now.
Statistics tell us that on putts of more than 25 feet, Woods made 6.6 percent in 2012. That’s tied for 49th on the PGA Tour. On putts from 5-15 feet, Woods made 45.18 percent. That’s 95th on Tour.
Those are not numbers that strike fear into opponents.
Like his full swing, Woods has altered his putting stroke and stance slightly since his great makeover was initiated.
But guess what?
If Woods starts hitting some of those scoring irons a little closer to that pole with a flag on it on the green, more of those putts will start disappearing.
A Much-Needed Weekend Resurgence
It follows that if Tiger Woods takes care of any or all of the previous issues listed, this one will take care of itself.
To get where he wants to go (back to the top of the World Golf Rankings), he’s going to have to start playing better on the weekends.
In 2012, he posted 19 rounds of 70 and above in 15 tournaments in which he made the cut. Nine of those rounds were over par.
That's just not good enough.
It's Not Going to Happen, but It Should
If you’re into karma, this falls into that category.
When Woods returned from his self-imposed exile in 2010, Woods promised to return to the tenets of the Buddhist religion and become a better person both on and off the course.
Not much of that has taken place in any of those regards.
He’s still much of a loner in the locker room, has little or no time for the media and still maintains what seems to be a disrespectful distance between him and those who remain his fans.
Bottom line? Tiger Woods is still a very good golfer, but he’s not what he was.
At this point in his career, he needs every little bit of help he can get.
A little good karma couldn’t hurt.
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