5 Things Tiger Woods Needs to Do to Make the Cut at the Greenbrier Classic
Tiger Woods has only teed it up at the Greenbrier Classic once since the tournament's inception in 2010, missing the cut in 2012. In order to avoid the same outcome this year, Woods will have to do five key things.
But first, some context. As SB Nation's Brian Floyd indicated, Tiger Woods' Chambers Bay performance was really, really bad. When he missed the cut at the U.S. Open, he did the following:
- Hit 16 fairways, tied for 145th
- Hit 21 greens in regulation, tied for 128th
- Needed 73 putts in two days (a little over two a hole), tied for 151st
- [Made] Only three birdies over two rounds at Chambers Bay
- Averaged 297.5 yards off the tee, tied for 104th
So, Woods is entering the Greenbrier Classic (July 2-5) on the heels of an all-around atrocious performance and his worst showing ever in a major.
He'll need to do these five things to play the weekend in West Virginia.
Bring His Range Game to the Course
Whatever the root of Woods' swing issues is—and whether he needs additional tweaking or merely to ingrain the moves he's working on into some kind of a functional patchwork—it seems he's hitting the ball much better on the driving range than the golf course.
This isn't a new issue for Woods, as he's had trouble driving the ball on course with the precision he's showcased on the range for years.
Anecdotally, most golfers have experienced the phenomenon of hitting the ball well on the range and being unable to take it to the course. Woods, however, seems to struggle mightily in this regard.
If we can assume that Woods is largely hitting the ball well when he's practicing at home in Florida, then part of the problem may also be the need for more "reps" in competition, as Woods often preaches. Still, Woods will have competed in three tournaments in the past 30 days at the conclusion of the Greenbrier.
One can reasonably ask, how many more reps does he need?
And it isn't like he's appeared close to playing well. The guy tied for 17th at the Masters but has only gone backwards from there.
How did he hit the ball well enough at Augusta National to record a top-25 finish, then barely make the cut at The Players Championship and Memorial Tournament? How was he then so far off that he carded an 80 at Chambers Bay?
Clearly, a functional golf swing is in there somewhere. Woods just needs to find a way to bring it to the golf course.
Keep the Driver in Play
Woods has been historically awful with the big stick this year.
Since the Masters, he hasn't hit more than 50 percent of fairways in an event. That's terrible. It doesn't take a sophisticated golf fan to understand why missing the fairway routinely puts a golfer behind the eight ball and makes scoring difficult.
The worst golfers in the game hit roughly 55 percent of fairways. At Chambers Bay, Woods hit just 43 percent of fairways.
He'll need to do much better to have a shot at the weekend at the Greenbrier, which isn't a particularly difficult driving track.
Not Putt Like a 10-Handicapper
In addition to being terrible off the tee, Woods has struggled mightily with the putter as well. He needed an outrageous 73 putts to finish two rounds at Chambers Bay, which is basically worse than any professional golfer would ever expect to do.
Hopefully, the dismal putting performance was a fluke, as Woods was actually pretty good on the greens at the Memorial two starts ago (0.855 strokes gained putting).
He'll need to putt more like he did at the Memorial and less like he did at Chambers Bay to make this cut this week.
Find a Shot That Works
When Woods struggled for short periods during his peak, he seemed like he could always find a shot that worked. If he was having trouble drawing the ball off the tee, he'd play a baby cut to keep the ball in play.
Now, Woods doesn't seem to have enough control over his swing to put the ball in play. Gone are the days of the 2-iron stinger.
Woods needs to find a port in the storm. When things go wrong at the Old White, which recent history suggests they will, he needs a shot he can lean on.
Barring that development, we'll be treated to another display of the many varieties of poor golf shots—like we saw at Chambers Bay.
Handle the Par 3s
The Par-70 Old White TPC has four par threes, and they're all pretty long. The course's par threes measure 205 yards, 234 yards, 217 yards and 175 yards.
Perhaps surprisingly, Woods has been above average on approaches from 175-200 yards and 200-225 this season.
With only two par fives, longer players can separate themselves from the field on the long par threes this week, thus making them critical for Woods.
Tiger needs to play the long par threes well to offset likely blunders elsewhere.