Welcome to Earl's Golf Blog
January 29, 2018
It Passed the Eye Test
This past Friday, I witnessed 13 of the 18 holes that Tiger Woods played on the North course at Torrey Pines. From what I saw, I was impressed. Last year, I watched the threesome of Tiger, Dustin Johnson, and Jason Day play the same course. The difference was noticeable. This year there was a feeling of excitement, enthusiasm, optimism, and trust. Last year you got the feeling that he didn't trust his body. Even though he generally kept up with the drives of Jason and Dustin, it was not free flowing. There are certain holes on both courses at Torrey Pines that require full commitment and free swings. A year ago, Tiger wouldn't or couldn't let it go. This year, I saw a different player. He appeared to have full movement and wasn't afraid to swing with force. It's one thing to see it on television and another to see it in person. From what I observed, he passed the eye test.
Tiger made the cut on the number with a one under par total of 143. On the weekend his two under total tied Alex Noren and was one back to the ultimate winner Jason Day. Tying for 23rd is not the standard that you associate with Tiger Woods, but after a full year's absence from PGA competition and playing one of the more challenging golf courses on Tour, his performance was encouraging. On television we got to see every shot that he hit. The critics and commentators analyzed and dissected each swing and situation. Yes, he didn't hit many fairways. His approach iron shots were not as accurate as you would like. But he scored and battled. His last 36 hole score beat Phil Mickelson by 8, Jon Rahm by 10, and Hunter Mahan by 15! Sometimes you don't have to hold the trophy to be a winner.
The most obvious takeaway from Tiger's performance this past week was that his body held up to the strain and pressure of a four day grind. On the last day, according to the CBS announcers, Tiger hit the longest drive on the PGA Tour in the past 900 plus days. So much for his body not being able to swing again with freedom and power. But the most impressive aspect of his game was his short game. A few years ago, he struggled with his pitching and chipping to the point of embarrassment. Critics talked about the "yips", which is a career ending malady. Nowhere did I see any indication of a flinch or indecision with his short shots. On the last nine on Friday, he hit difficult delicate wedge shots in clutch pressure situations to make the cut. That, to me, was very impressive.
Will Tiger win this year? Yes, definitely! I saw determination, excitement, and drive in his performance at the Farmers. He is a thoroughbred that needs to get back on the track and race again. Once he gets in position to win, his old instincts will kick-in and he will again "know what to do". Of course all this is predicated on his health. That's the ultimate question. But for one week at least all was good for Tiger and in the golfing world. Time will tell.