Woods not the first to dismantle a successful swing

By Rex HoggardDecember 3, 2014, 9:24 pm

WINDERMERE, Fla. – Tiger Woods is not the first player to endure the ebbs and flows of a swing change, just the most high-profile convert.

Woods’ experiment with new “swing consultant” Chris Como will be, more or less, his fifth different action as a professional, from the initial world-beater swing under Butch Harmon he took to Augusta National in 1997 to the last four years with Sean Foley, and to varying degrees he has enjoyed success with each.

He has also endured his share of slings and arrows along the way for what some see as a pathological desire to fix what isn’t broken, particularly after splitting with Harmon, with whom he worked with from 1993 to August 2002 when he won eight majors and 26.8 percent of the time on the PGA Tour.

All of which gives his most recent switch all of the markings of a seminal moment for an often-injured, soon-to-be 39-year-old.

What direction do I want to go?

What do I want my swing to look like?

What do I want to get out of my body?



These were all questions Woods mulled in the weeks following his last start at Valhalla and eventually led him to Como, but this week’s host is hardly the first world-class player to reach these types of epiphanies.

Each week on Tour the practice tee is dotted with players who reached the same crossroads. Players like Steve Stricker, who at the end of 2005 seemed to have two choices – change or quit.

“I was at a point where do I continue to play? It wasn’t much fun the way I was playing, or determining what I needed to do to get better,” said Stricker, who had dipped to 162nd in earnings in ’05.

While Woods’ road is not nearly as dire, the two friends seemed to have the same internal debate as well as the same tempered expectations.

“When you go through a change there are some bumps in the road,” said Stricker, who has become something of a putting sounding board for Woods over the years. “You want it to come quickly, but you just know it’s golf and it’s hard to do and there is a learning curve to this.”

Keegan Bradley had a slightly different take when he embarked on what he now considers a “dramatic” swing change in December 2013 with Chuck Cook.

When Bradley made the jump to Cook from longtime coach Jim McLean he’d already won three times on Tour, including a major (2011 PGA Championship) and a World Golf Championship (2012 at Firestone) and was considered by many a bona fide phenom.

While perceived deficiencies in his short game led Bradley to Cook, he never subscribed to the idea that change, of any variety, comes with a price.

“I never make a change and think I’m going to get worse,” Bradley said. “It may happen and any time you change something and put it under the gun it’s nerve-racking, but that’s why we put in the work.”

The Tour’s landscape is littered with stories of swing changes gone awry. Luke Donald spent just a little over a year working with Cook before calling a mulligan and reuniting with Pat Goss, who he had split with to work with Cook in August 2013.

Lee Westwood gave his experiment with Foley even less time, splitting with him at the end of 2013 after roughly seven months.

At the heart of these changes appears to be a particular player's motivation for change. Like Woods, who has repeatedly stated his desire for continued improvement behind his numerous changes, the elusive drive for perfection often clouds the more subtle elements behind an overhaul, like expectations and long-term goals.

Billy Horschel set his path at a relatively young age when he was a senior at the University of Florida and makes a key distinction between what some may view as little more than an overhaul compared to an extreme makeover.

“A swing change is when you’re changing philosophy on what you think a swing should be and you’re going with a method teacher,” said Horschel, who this year became the second player coached by Todd Anderson to win the FedEx Cup.

“Todd and I have made tweaks to make my game better and more consistent. Is that a swing change? No, that’s just getting back to where I swing the club the best.”

Whether Woods’ most recent transition would fall into the latter category – which he seemed to suggest on Tuesday when he spoke with the media – or will be remembered as a dramatic overhaul remains to be seen, but what’s certain is that he is not unique in setting out down an unknown path.

He’s just the only one who does it under the glare of a 24-hour news cycle.

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Watch: Highlights from Tiger's Friday 71 at Honda

By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 23, 2018, 8:12 pm

Tiger Woods got caught in the Bear Trap on Friday, but bit back with a late birdie to sign for 1-over 71 on a difficult day at PGA National, where he sits four off the lead heading into the weekend at the Honda Classic.

Woods started at even par in Round 2 and began Friday with a bogey at the par-4 second, before getting that stroke back with a birdie at the par-4 fourth:



Following four consecutive pars, Woods birdied the par-4 ninth to turn in 1-under 34.



At 1 under for the tournament, Woods was tied for 10th place, three off the lead, when he began the back nine at PGA National. He remained there with this enthusiastic par save at the par-4 11th.

Tiger poured in three more pars at was just two off the 3-under pace when he rinsed his tee shot at the par-3 15th, leading to a double bogey. He dropped another shot and fell to 2 over when he three-putted 16.

But he wouldn't leave the Bear Trap at a total loss. At the diabolical par-3 17th, Woods wowed the jam-packed stands with a flagged 5-iron iron and a 12-foot putt for birdie, pulling him back to plus-1 for the week.

Woods would go on to par the closing hole, leaving him in a tie for 14th with two rounds to play.

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Defending champ Fowler misses cut at Honda

By Ryan LavnerFebruary 23, 2018, 7:14 pm

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – The roles might be reversed this weekend for Rickie Fowler.

Last year, when he won at PGA National, Fowler was greeted behind the 18th green by Justin Thomas, one of his Jupiter neighbors. Thomas had missed the cut in his hometown event but drove back to the tournament to congratulate Fowler on his fourth PGA Tour title.

It’s Fowler who will be on the sidelines this weekend, after missing the Honda Classic cut following rounds of 71-76.  


Full-field scores from the Honda Classic

Honda Classic: Articles, photos and videos


“I haven’t been swinging it great the last month and a half,” he said afterward. “Obviously playing in the wind, it will pick you apart even more.”

After a tie for fourth at Kapalua, Fowler has missed two of his last three cuts. In between, at the Phoenix Open, he coughed up the 54-hole lead and tied for 11th.

Fowler said he’s been struggling with commitment and trust on the course.

“It’s close,” he said. “Just a little bit off, and the wind is going to make it look like you’re a terrible weekend golfer.”

Asked if he’d return the favor for Thomas, if he were to go and win, Fowler smiled and said: “Of course.”  

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Tiger Tracker: Honda Classic

By Tiger TrackerFebruary 23, 2018, 7:00 pm

Tiger Woods is making his third start of the year at the Honda Classic. We're tracking him at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.


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Cut Line: Woods still eyeing Ryder Cup dual role

By Rex HoggardFebruary 23, 2018, 6:57 pm

In this week’s edition, Jack Nicklaus makes the argument, again, for an equipment rollback, Tiger Woods gets halfway to his Ryder Cup goal and Paul Lawrie laments slow play ... in Europe.

Made Cut

Captain’s corner. Last week Tiger Woods coyly figured he could do both, play and be a vice captain for this year’s U.S. Ryder Cup team. On Tuesday, he made it halfway to his goal.

U.S. captain Jim Furyk named Woods and Steve Stricker vice captains for this year’s matches, joining Davis Love III on the team golf cart.

Whether Woods will be able to pull off the double-header is now largely up to him and how his most recent comeback from injury progresses, but one way or another Furyk wanted Tiger in his team room.

“What Tiger really has brought to the table for our vice captains is a great knowledge of X's and O's,” Furyk said. “He's done a really good job of pairing players together in foursomes and fourball. When you look at our team room and you look at a lot of the youth that we have in that team room now with the younger players, a lot of them became golf professionals, fell in love with the game of golf because they wanted to emulate Tiger Woods.”

Woods is currently 104th on the U.S. points list, but the qualification process is designed for volatility, with this year’s majors worth twice as many points. With Tiger’s improved play it’s not out of the question that he gets both, a golf cart and a golf bag, for this year’s matches.

#MSDStrong. Every week on Tour players, officials and fans come together to support a charity of some sort, but this week’s Honda Classic has a more personal impact for Nicholas Thompson.

Thompson graduated from nearby Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, and last week’s horrific shooting there inspired the former Tour member to work with tournament organizers and find a way to help the victims.

Officials handed out 1,600 maroon ribbons to volunteers to honor the victims; and Thompson and his wife, who is also a Stoneman Douglas graduate, donated another 500 with the letters “MSD” on them for players, wives and caddies.

Thompson also planned to donate 3,100 rubber bracelets in exchange for donations to help the victims and their families.

“I’m not much of a crier, but it was a very, very sad moment,” Thompson told PGATour.com. “To see on TV, the pictures of the school that I went through for four years and the area where it occurred was terrible.”

The Tour makes an impact on communities every week, but some tournaments are more emotional than others.


Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Golden moment. Jack Nicklaus has never been shy about expressing his thoughts on modern equipment and how far today’s professionals are hitting the golf ball, but this week the Golden Bear revealed just how involved he may be in what is increasingly looking like an equipment rollback of some sort.

During a recent dinner with USGA CEO Mike Davis, Nicklaus discussed the distance debate.

“Mike said, ‘We’re getting there. We’re going to get there. I need your help when we get there.'” Nicklaus said. “I said, ‘That’s fine. I’m happy to help you. I’ve only been yelling at you for 40 years.’ 1977 is the first time I went to the USGA.”

The USGA and R&A are scheduled to release their annual distance report before the end of the month, but after the average driving distance jumped nearly 3 yards last year on Tour – and nearly 7 yards on the Web.com Tour – many within the equipment industry are already bracing for what could be the most profound rollback in decades.

Stay tuned.

Geographically undesirable. Although this will likely be the final year the Tour’s Florida swing is undercut by the WGC-Mexico Championship, which will be played next week, the event’s impact on this year’s fields is clear.

The tee sheet for this week’s Honda Classic, which had become one of the circuit’s deepest stops thanks to an influx of Europeans gearing up for the Masters, includes just three players from the top 10 in the Official World Golf Ranking, and none from top three. By comparison, only the Sony Open and CareerBuilder Challenge had fewer top players in 2018.

On Monday at a mandatory meeting, players were given a rough outline of the 2018-19 schedule, which features some dramatic changes including the PGA Championship moving to May and The Players shifting back to March, and numerous sources say the Mexico stop will move to the back end of the West Coast swing and be played after the Genesis Open.

That should help fields in the Sunshine State regain some luster, but it does nothing to change the fact that this year’s Florida swing is, well, flat.


Missed Cut

West Coast woes. Of all the highlights from this year’s West Coast swing, a run that included overtime victories for Patton Kizzire (Sony Open), Jon Rahm (CareerBuilder Challenge), Jason Day (Farmers Insurance Open) and Gary Woodland (Waste Management Phoenix Open), it will be what regularly didn’t happen that Cut Line remembers.

J.B. Holmes endured the wrath of social media for taking an eternity - it was actually 4 minutes, 10 seconds - to hit his second shot on the 72nd hole at Torrey Pines, but in fairness to Holmes he’s only a small part of a larger problem.

Without any weather delays, Rounds 1 and 2 were not completed on schedule last week in Los Angeles because of pace of play, and the Tour is even considering a reduction in field size at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open to avoid similar schedule issues.

But all this seems to miss the point. Smaller fields aren’t the answer; rules that recognize and penalize slow play are the only solution.

Tweet of the week: @PaulLawriegolf (Paul Lawrie) “Getting pretty fed up playing with guys who cheat the system by playing as slow as they want until referee comes then hit it on the run to make sure they don't get penalized. As soon as ref [is] gone it’s back to taking forever again. We need a better system.”

It turns out slow play isn’t a uniquely Tour/West Coast issue, as evidenced by the Scot’s tweet on Thursday from the Qatar Masters.