26 Mar 2012
Once again Arnie hosted a great tournament. Rushed to the hospital on Sunday as the final groups finished for a sudden spike in his blood pressure, let’s all hope The King is okay.
This time the greens at Bay Hill were nearly Masters speed. And with tough pin settings, the course again found the best golfer. Tiger Woods cruised to a five shot victory. His first win in some 2+ years.
A BIG CONGRATS TO TIGER. Its been a long road back. And in his victory speech we found the key to his victory. He thanked all of the people who have helped him along the way. It seems Tiger has indeed learned that life has relatively little meaning or purpose when you live it alone. Its been said that man is measured by the quality and extent of his friendships.
In my most recent “Tiger Watch” published here Jan 30, 2012, I stated that Freddie Couples gave Tiger the huge boost he needed to bounce back from spiritual bankruptcy. His Presidents Cup teammates responded in kind. Tiger suddenly understood how important and great it was to have friends. For his sake, let’s all hope that Tiger doesn’t once again misconstrue popularity or fame for friendship – which by the way, is a two way street.
The British bookmakers and the media are once again fully jumping on Tiger’s bandwagon. They are making him the favorite to win the Masters. And to overtake Jack’s record of 18 Majors. Hold on a minute! Let’s remember recent history. Tiger walked off the course just two weeks ago, hobbled. He was having to play a 20 yard slice in his first few tournaments of 2012 just to keep the ball in play. He was putting and chipping miserably. And we were crowning Rory McIlroy as the best in the game – the next Tiger Woods! And then Luke Donald said, not so fast!
Yet, he is Tiger – the man who can turn his game around faster than any player in history. Is he on a new run to the top? He may well be. But as I watch his swing I have to ask myself, “why would a player of his ability try to learn to play with such an unnatural, manufactured release from ball to target?” The only answer I can come up with is – neither he nor his teacher, Sean Foley, know any better. But then, I’ve always said you can take the most talented of players, stand them on their ear and swing, and they will find a way to repeat it.
I believe Augusta National will be a good test of where Tiger’s game is. But with his continued down/up head movement combined with the manufactured fade swing release he is currently using, playing a controlled draw is a tough assignment, at best – which you need on the back nine at Augusta. His recently found confidence on and around the greens is just that – recently found! Augusta will test it, severely. So for this Masters, my bet, given the choice between Tiger and the Field, I would have to take the Field.
Our CLOSE BUT NO CIGAR AWARD this week goes to Graeme McDowell who had his chances on Sunday. The eagle he poured in on 6 on Sunday, stealing that hole from Tiger, brought him within one stroke of Tiger. He then missed short putts on 9 and 10 when he could have putt a little pressure on Tiger’s yet tender swing changes. But it was McDowell who faltered down the stretch. You can bet Graeme will have his short putting in hand come the Masters.
Ernie Els came up but one stroke shy of a tie for third and two shots shy of earning an invite to the Masters. And once again we can find those shots from inside six feet from the pin. On June 20, 2011, I posted on this site, a video tip drill for Ernie that would at least get him started in the right direction. It would only take a couple of days with Ernie to get him to understand and feel the motion required to solve the problem. There a few things, fundamentally, he needs to do differently in his putting.
Ernie is a great guy and one dedicated to making a difference through is foundation, which is seeking ways to improve the lives of those with Autism. Let’s all wish him the best.
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