Woods finds himself in uncharted waters

By Rex HoggardSeptember 3, 2010, 12:43 am

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NORTON, Mass. – TPC Boston is familiar ground for Tiger Woods. He won here in 2006, finished runner-up to Phil Mickelson in a clash of the titans in 2007 and proceeds from the event benefit the Tiger Woods Foundation.

But on Thursday under sweltering skies and the threat of a hurricane named Earl everything must have seemed as new as freshly fallen snow. Make no mistake, the world No. 1 is entering uncharted waters, like Indian summers in New England and a Red Sox pennant bid that wanes long before October.

Never before has Woods started a tournament under the looming reality that if he doesn’t play well at the Deutsche Bank Championship he won’t be playing at all for the rest of the Playoffs.

Not in this lifetime has his Ryder Cup fate depended on the hospitality of a captain’s pick.

Only in Bizarro World would Woods have imagined that he would have the same number of victories in September that he had in January. And only in his nightmares would he have envisioned an empty house and broken family back home in central Florida.

But times have indeed changed.

In very practical terms, the season of change is on display this week south of Boston, and central to this competitive paradigm shift is a cerebral Canadian whose father was a chemist and whose mind never stops.

Post-Nov. 26 there are few, if any, questions Tiger Woods is not prepared for, but on Thursday on the eve of the Deutsche Bank Championship he was asked what were the fundamental swing differences between Butch Harmon, his original instructor when he turned pro, Hank Haney, who took over for Harmon in March 2004, and Sean Foley, the newest edition to Team Tiger who started publically working with Woods at last month’s PGA Championship.

“Well,” Woods paused, “they are three different philosophies, three different ways to hit a golf ball.

“There’s a lot of learning to different philosophies, and that’s probably the biggest thing is you first have to understand the philosophy in order to buy into it and then be committed to it. That’s been kind of where I was at.”

If that doesn’t exactly answer the question it at least walks us through the process by which Woods arrives at his fourth professional crossroads.

Unlike journalist and police investigators, Woods has little interest in the when and where. In this case it is only the why and the how that matter. Whatever the differences between the Tiger triumvirate, for Woods the road ahead is all that interests him.

Instead, we tracked down Foley, who was busy most of Thursday afternoon working with Woods and the rest of his stable on the TPC Boston practice ground, and asked how his philosophy differs from that of Harmon and Haney.

“There’s a difference in the generation,” Foley said. “There’s been a whole lot more information.”

Know this about Foley, his Tour-issued credential may read “instructor,” but he is a student of the golf swing by any measure. If Woods wants to know why the golf club continues to get “stuck” behind him on the downswing, a common culprit particularly with the driver, Foley will explain the complexities of biomechanics, physics and the principles of motivation, a detailed intellectual style that likely separates him from Haney and Harmon.

That’s not to say Foley, who at 35 is much younger than his forerunners, is unfamiliar with Harmon and Haney’s teachings.

“Those are predecessors, right? Butch (Harmon), Lead (David Leadbetter), all those guys and obviously I’ve read all their stuff. Worked on all their stuff,” Foley said.

But the die was cast at an early age when the uber-analytical student tried to comprehend a game dominated by dogma and disconnected philosophies.

“I was very scientific minded and found that things were too golf-y,” Foley said. “I found there was too much pseudo-semantics to the golf swing. This plane and that plane, but as I started reading more. I read this is a horizontal swing plane, what is that? That’s the face position at impact. I start thinking about every dimension of movement.”

What followed was a single-minded pursuit of answers. Cause and effect dominate much of the conversation when Foley is talking swing.

Foley’s swing philosophies hardly dovetail with his predecessors. But what all three seem to have in common is a reluctance to teach a single method.

There is little chance Woods’ swing will begin to mirror that of Hunter Mahan, a two-time Tour winner this year and a member of Foley’s stable, but, “(Woods) will look like him at impact.”

For Woods, whose previous swing changes took anywhere from 18 months to two years to incubate, the results have come surprisingly fast. His tie for 12th last week at The Barclays may have been his best ballstriking week of the year and he did little to hide his budding confidence on Thursday.

“I’m starting to see some progress, which is nice,” Woods said. “It’s nice to see that the things that I was trying to do earlier at the PGA I’m trying to do now.”

Although his quick turnaround may be a bit of a surprise, to say nothing of the concerns that accompany unrealistic expectations, Foley figured the best player of his generation would be a quick study and he has not disappointed.

“He’s picked everything up very fast. I would think that the greatest players would be fast learners in any sport,” Foley said. “To finish first last week (in fairways hit), I don’t care if he was hitting 3-wood. He hits his 3-wood 280 (yards).”

With that, Foley inadvertently unearths something that hasn’t changed, Woods’ ability to amaze. Over the last 10 months it has been put to the test, questioned, even dismissed in some circles, but he can still impress.

And amid the sea of change that has become Woods’s life, that’s a start.

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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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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

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