Tale of Two Swings

By Rex HoggardFebruary 24, 2011, 6:24 am
2005 WGC Accenture Match Play

MARANA, Ariz. – This is a tale of motor patterns, muscle memory and two vastly different outcomes, if not two sets of wildly divergent expectations.

When the frost finally burned off Dove Mountain, Stewart Cink set out into the unknown against an intimidating and known quantity. More than four hours later Tiger Woods stepped to the same tee with surprising optimism against an old enigma.

One is heading home after the shortest of PGA Tour workweeks, the other is Cink.

Both players are in the throes of a swing change, Woods’ transformation very much a work-in-progress following a pedestrian week in Dubai while Cink is just hoping to make progress.

For both the status quo remains unchanged.

Cink outdueled match-play magician and WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship defending champion Ian Poulter in 19 holes with an action that was a half beat off but a putter that rolled in putts from Pima to Picacho.

WGC-Match Play TV Schedule
(All times Eastern)

Golf Channel_new
Wed: Noon-6 p.m.

Thurs: 1-6 p.m.
Fri: 1-6 p.m.
Sat: Noon-2 p.m.
Sun: 9 a.m.-1 p.m.

NBC Sports
Sat: 2-6 p.m.

Sun: 2-6 p.m.

Hours later on the same first tee Woods “blew it,” two words that have rarely been a part of the world No. 3’s lexicon. He’d squared the match against Thomas 'The Tank Engine' Bjorn, who started to look more and more like the Danish version of Nick O’Hern as a windy afternoon high in the Arizona hills turned to dusk, on the 18th hole with a dramatic birdie.

For the record, Woods fanned his drive at the first extra hole into the desert, needed two swings to reach the grass again and his 30-footer for bogey never threatened the hole.

For Woods it’s back to the Isleworth practice tee and more time with swing coach Sean Foley. On Tuesday – not long after Woods told the assembled scribes he “has a better understanding” of his new swing – Foley concurred with his newest charge but stressed the need for patience, if not more realistic expectations.

“I think he understands it so much more,” Foley said. “Can he do it every time? No. No one can.”

It was a bad omen for Woods when the winds began charging up Dove Mountain just as he was heading out for his first-round duel. Two weeks ago at the Dubai Desert Classic it was similar desert winds that doomed his chances.

“It blew 35 (mph) on the weekend in Dubai and he couldn’t keep it below the wind,” Foley said. “He had that stinger tee shot that is such a weapon in conditions like that, you can hit it 295 (yards) and low. He lost that.”

Foley said Woods is rediscovering the stinger, to say nothing of his confidence, but stressed that it’s a process not an instant product.

It’s also unknown waters. There was a time when a healthy zephyr and a late-to-the-dance Dane were of no concern to Woods. But those days, at least for now, are the stuff of legend.

There were times on Wednesday, particularly on the back nine, when Woods looked in control. He missed putts of 22 and 9 feet at the 16th and 17th holes, respectively, to square the match with Bjorn and roped his approach to 8 ½ feet at the last to force extra frames. A fist pump, a glare, but the old motor patterns played catch up on the 19th hole.

Those old habits are the hardest to break, just ask Cink who quickly conceded after his match that he’s probably a year away from being fully vested in his new action. But for Cink his opening-day victory over Poulter is the tonic that feeds change.

When Cink split with Butch Harmon and signed on with Pat O’Brien it was more than just a need for change it was a desire to fully fulfill his potential.

“At 37 this is the most important time in my career,” Cink said. “I don’t want to be an irrelevant player.”

Cink said his split with Harmon was more about geography than it was swing philosophy. “Me and Butch were together a long time and it came down to schedules. He is on the West Coast, I’m on the East Coast and I’m not willing to make that sacrifice for my family to always be on the go,” he said.

If Woods’ loss to Bjorn was a minor setback, Cink’s victory over Poulter was one giant leap forward. Under pressure his retooled swing held up, at least when it mattered the most like on the 19th hole when he carved a 6-iron to 4 feet for a winning birdie.

“It’s actually a big win for me and my confidence,” Cink said. “I don’t know if there is a better match play player in this field than Ian.”

Whether it was a blow to Woods’ confidence or just another building block remains to be seen, but if he was looking for a silver lining in the storm that is now his competitive life he needed to look no further than Cink’s stunner. It’s all about the small steps, Cink knows it, Foley knows it and Woods seems to be learning that inescapable truth one round at a time.


Getty Images

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.

Getty Images

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.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

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.

Playing with the pros

Tiger, DJ and Faxon

Article: Video, images from Tiger, DJ's round with Trump

Article: After DJ and Tiger, Trump plays golf with Jack

Rory faces criticism

Article: Rory: Round with Trump about respect for presidency

Article: Rory: Round with Trump not a 'political statement'

President at the Presidents Cup

Video: President Trump makes the rounds at Liberty National

Article: President Trump presents trophy to U.S. team

Article: Stricker: 'Great thrill' to get trophy from Trump

Purported round of 73 with Lindsey Graham

Article: Senator tweets Trump shot 73 in windy, wet conditions

Article: Graham offers details on Trump's round of 73

Cart on the green

Article: Trump appears to drive cart on Bedminster green

Presence and protests at U.S. Women's Open

Article: Trump makes presidential history at Women's Open

Article: Trump supporters, protesters clash near Women's Open

Article: UltraViolet takes protest inside Trump National

Photo gallery: President Trump at the U.S. Women's Open

Trump golf properties


Article: Environmental group vandalizes Trump golf course

Article: Man accused of vandalizing four Trump courses


Article: Two Trump courses in Scotland losing millions

Article: Eric Trump denies Russia helped fund golf courses

Article: Trump company ordered to pay $5.77M in dues dispute

Reportedly fake TIME covers

Article: Trump clubs display fake Time magazine cover

Trump apologizes for voter-fraud story

Report: Trump's voter fraud claim tied to Langer

Langer: Trump 'apologized' for story mix-up

Pros comment on the president

Article: Players defend Trump at Senior PGA Championship

Article: Trump congratulates Daly; Daly congratulates Trump

Getty Images

Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 12:30 pm