Never mind that Woods had finished second, first, first, first, first, first, 17th, first, second, second, first, first, first, third, and ninth in his previous 15 events worldwide. At Bay Hill he wound up 22nd and left the grounds without talking to the media. In Woods defense, it is extremely rare for him to depart, even in defeat, without stopping for reporters. The track record of Bay Hill winner Vijay Singh, by way of comparison, is much spottier on that score.
The 43 was the highest number and the most over par Woods had ever signed for on the back nine of any PGA TOUR event since he turned professional more than 10 years ago.
And the criticism raised the hackles of Hank Haney. Haney is Woods golf coach. And he is nothing, if not fiercely loyal to Woods.
The fact is that most peoples opinions on anything, it doesnt matter what it is, come from preconceived notions and not from real research. Haney informed me. Research is hard. Preconceived notions are what they are: One persons opinion based on what they know or feel and often times not based on the facts.
Woods is in the field at Doral this week for the WGC-CA Championship where he will defend his title. The week after that its Augusta and the Masters Tournament.
Long way to go before Augusta, Haney said. Doral is first and then a week to practice before we even go to Augusta, so there is a lot to improve and get ready. This is the most focused and hardest I have seen Tiger practice in the three years that I have been with him and I expect that he will be ready to play well at Augusta.
As for the 43, Haney said: I am not saying that Tigers swing was perfect (Sunday). But dont let a few bad shots that lead to a terrible score take away from the good shots that he hit in the rounds and especially in his first round. Golf is a hard game sometimes and Tiger is human.
You can always get better at golf and Tiger understands that better than anyone. This is a long journey and it is inevitable that there will be bumps in the road. It doesnt change a thing. We just keep trying to improve. Bay Hill was not the destination, just a stop on the journey. On we go.
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