Woods' rustiness showed in his short game

By Jason SobelDecember 4, 2014, 11:36 pm

WINDERMERE, Fla. – In case you hadn’t heard, Tiger Woods has been working on his swing lately.

He’s been focusing on his fast-twitch muscles. His motor patterns. His explosiveness. His traj. His reps. His speed. His feels. He’s making adjustments. Generating force. Hitting his numbers.

In advance of this week’s Hero World Challenge, all of the usual buzzwords were buzzing around Woods in his return from a four-month competitive absence because of a back injury.

All of the usual buzzwords, that is, except for two.

Short game.

Woods’ opening-round 5-over 77 wasn’t just four strokes worse than anybody else in the 18-man field. It was an exhibition of rustiness and an exploration into what happens when so many of those swing thoughts come to fruition without the benefit of a formidable game around the greens.

All told, he left five greenside wedge shots short of the actual greens, chunking four of them and leaving a bunker shot in the sand. If his ball-striking – which included 8-of-14 fairways and 11-of-18 greens in regulation – was a newfound bright spot during this latest comeback attempt, his short game was a dark crater of unfulfilled intentions.

“It certainly is surprising that I hit chip shots that poorly,” sighed Woods after the round. “I was just awful. I just made too many mistakes and mainly they were around the green.”

Not that we should be surprised. Woods warned us prior to his first round since the PGA Championship that we should expect some rustiness. Well, he was right.

His bunker shot on the seventh hole hit the lip and stayed in.

Then he flubbed a chip on the next hole. And two more five holes later. And another four holes after that.

He had more chili-dips than a tailgate party.

Hero World Challenge: Articles, videos and photos

“I have a nice facility in my backyard, so I can’t say it’s for the lack of practicing,” he explained. “I just haven’t faced grain this thick. My short-game area is very tight. It got a little stickier in the longer grass around the greens and I just hit horrible chips.”

Logic states that this was a horrifically poor performance, even with the rust. In his time away from hitting full shots, Woods should have had more time to work on his short game; and Isleworth is a course on which he’s played hundreds of previous rounds; and, let’s face it, no elite golfer should leave five greenside shots short of the green on any course on the planet – especially one with 14 career major championships on his resume.

Where that logic goes awry is when it tries to connect those dots to his future prospects.

Like so many critiques of Woods’ game, too much will be read into this one. Anyone trying to read the tea leaves of his first competitive round in 119 days, though, should stop short of theorizing that a domino effect could leave his short game in shambles for not just the remaining three rounds, but going forward toward the 2015 campaign.

Instead, the main takeaway from Thursday afternoon is that it’s going to take more than a healthy body to thrust Woods back onto leaderboards.

Any notion that he could simply rest, recover, recuperate and rebound was left in the divots of those stubbed and flubbed chip shots.

The other lesson is a reminder that short game shouldn’t be overlooked or underrated. Much of the public speculation during the past few weeks has centered around his new working relationship with “consultant” Chris Como and a swing that Woods cryptically described as “new … but it’s old.” A video of this move through the ball went viral on social media Monday in advance of this event, so many observers impatiently and passionately clicking on a quick, driving range tee shot.

Three days later, we realized that maybe we should have been snooping around for video of short wedge shots instead – not that we would have seen anything unseemly.

“Monday he was chipping fine; his short game was on point,” said Jason Day, his opening-round playing partner. “It was just surprising today to see him stub a lot of chip shots. Uphill into the grain is very difficult, but to see that many out of Tiger Woods is very surprising.”

In his first round back, Woods’ swing looked improved in most of those buzzwordy ways he so often speaks – from his explosiveness to his traj to his speed to his feels.

The phrase he didn’t use much in the lead-up to this return was short game. And on Thursday, it showed.

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Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 11:27 pm

Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.

The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.

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Rose leads Indonesian Masters; Snedeker WDs

By Associated PressDecember 15, 2017, 2:04 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose completed the final two holes of his second round early Saturday for a 3-under 69 and a one-stroke lead at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose, who had a first-round 62, was among a quarter of the field forced off the Royale Jakarta Golf Club course after weather delays on Friday.

The Englishman, who bogeyed his last hole, had a two-round total of 13-under 131.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat, who completed his 64 on Friday, was in second place.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters. He has been affected by a rib-sternum injury for most of the season.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 2, Donald Trump

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 1:00 pm

Even away from the White House, President Donald Trump generated plenty of headlines this year.

Trump’s first year in office didn’t dim his enthusiasm for the game, as he made splashy appearances at two big events, tweeted about golf to his more than 44 million followers, teed it up with some of the sport’s biggest stars, including Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Lexi Thompson, and fired a few eyebrow-raising scores. Logging more than 75 rounds since his inauguration, the 3-handicap has only bolstered his reputation as the best golfing president, particularly after his alleged 73 with Sen. Lindsey Graham.

None of his appearances created a bigger stir than when he attended the U.S. Women’s Open. Despite protests and calls for the USGA to move its premier women’s event from Trump Bedminster – the president reportedly threatened to sue – his weekend there went off without incident, as Trump watched the action and hosted players in his private box near the 15th green.

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Despite his controversial rhetoric on a variety of national issues, Trump has remained a staunch supporter of women’s golf, and he became the first sitting president to attend the U.S. Women’s Open.

An honorary chairman of the Presidents Cup, Trump also flew to Liberty National for the biennial team event, where he presented the trophy to the U.S. team and dedicated the victory to the hurricane victims in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.

In late November, amid tweets about the national anthem, Turkey, Egypt and Time Magazine, Trump announced that he was playing a round in South Florida with Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.

Yes, that too became a headline, just like everything else Trump did in 2017.

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