I think it has to do with the knee injury. The knee was injured with the swing that Harmon taught. Harmon's swing reduces stress on the back, but it places all of the stress on the left side. The power comes from a swift (in Tiger's case very swift) trunk rotation - some part of the body has to handle that load. It was his knee. To obtain the accuracy that Tiger had during that unbelievable reign, his lower body seemed to be quieter to me with the Harmon swing. His newer swing seems to have a little bit more lower body movement to reduce the stress on his knee.
I think the reason for his so-called decline is not very complicated. There hasn't been a single golfer in history who could sustain an exceptionally high caliber of play his entire career. Every golfer, for whatever reason, goes through periods of highs and lows. No golfer can do it, day in and day out, year after year. No one ever has. That's just the nature of golf.
Of course lets not forget the other reasons why: Wedding plans, Engagement bliss, Changing equipment (the whole bag!), Gaining 15 pounds of muscle and perhaps losing some flexibility, Fathers ailing health, Parents troubled relationship, and who can forget the constant media and fan speculation. All of these things combined with, oh yeah, the other guys get paid to golf too--are all part of the 'Reasons Why'.
1. Tiger knows that the early great players ' Hogan, Nelson, Snead etc., had no teachers. They figured it out themselves . He really believes he can do this
2. Pride alone will keep him away from Butch, because to go back means he could not do it alone and failed.
3. I think he is, while not admitting it, working with Haney and O'Meara. If you check his putting style, he looks like O'Meara. Also his swing looks like O'Meara and O'Meara cannot carry his shoes.
George J. Dahl
Tiger has raised the bar so high from his early years that even he can't reach his own expectations of performance. From my observance, Tiger has lost some of the youthful zeal he displayed when winning all of those tournaments. But I also think that as Butch has said, Tiger is a student of the game and in order to really master it and to really become the best player of all time, he must take a scientific approach to every aspect of his swing.
Freddie Hall, Jr.
If you recall, when Tiger was younger, his training routine was specifically made for him. As a young man, the strength training obviously helped him quite a bit As Tiger has grown older, his physical attributes - muscles if you will - have dramatically changed because of a maturing of every part of his body. Tiger's body has changed, without a doubt, and dramatically 'changed' his swing sequence -, which he constantly has to adjust to and of course has affected his game. I truly believe his training at this point in his life should 'tone down' and work only on those exercises that keep his muscles supple and elastic.
I believe that the knee injury, combined with the timing of his split with Butch Harmon, have produced the results we have witnessed. Any time the body goes through the trauma of an injury, you emerge a different person physiologically. If you try to come back too quickly, you tend to favor that area and really get things out of whack. New habits (most of them bad) are formed and can be extremely difficult to correct. Since he split with Butch Harmon at the same time as the injury, he can't see that his swing is very different from what it used to be.
The real problem I believe is that Tiger is trying to modify his swing to alleviate the huge amounts of torque he generates up through his knees and lower back vertebrae during his swing. His swing is laid off more at the top of his backswing nowadays, more towards 10 o'clock than 11 o'clock if you view it from behind. His follow-through also has a far greater reduced 'corkscrew' effect than it used to have. I believe he is trying to give himself a newer swing plane that simply generates less stress on his knees and lower back, and this is taking time to become natural for him.
The rest of the field has gotten better in response to Tiger's challenge. Look at what the other 'best players in the game have done. Low 10 average scores per round on the tour since 1998 - excluding Tiger - have gone from over 69.6 to about 69.4 with a subtle but noticeable downward trend over that period. Considering how much longer and more difficult courses have become, this is an amazing statistic. If you look at the other Big 3 - Ernie, Phil and Vijay - each has shown a steady downward trend in average score since 1998 - with Phil improving an amazing two strokes per round over that period, or eight strokes per tournament.
consider one more dimension: the Hank Haney factor. Yes, he split with Harmon and, given all the success both he and everyone else has had with Harmon, that was no doubt a mistake. But the most active harm has almost certainly been done by Haney, first through his other pupil and Tiger's best pro buddy, Mark O'Meara, and now directly through a new teacher-pupil arrangement. Haney's screwy, outdated 'theory' about the takeaway has ruined Tiger's swing -- just watch his head bob up and down, his awkward struggling at the transition point, his inconsistent position at finish.
The only thing wrong with Tiger's swing is that HE SWINGS TOO HARD!! Think about it - if he were a beginner and a teaching professional saw that swing, the first thing they'd say is, 'Whoa, slow down!!' But, no one even thinks about that just because it's Tiger. They focus on all these technical problems. Well, those technical problems are 'symptoms' of swinging too hard and fast! Look at Phil, he took a little off and he's playing the best golf he's ever played! Tiger tries to kill it every time especially off the tee box, and he's just not swinging well.
Another thing just burns me is in regards to the so-called Elin factor. Perhaps his relationship with her may cut into his practice time or preparation for a tournament, but so what - there's more to life than golf! I hope he enjoys all the wonderful things that marriage brings such as children and the closeness of a family unit. If it affects his golf so be it - he will be a complete and happy man with all that life has to offer outside golf..
. . . its Tiger doing it himself. Doing it yourself just puts too many swing thoughts in your head! More so than someone else guiding you. Youre more prone to over-do the corrections, since youre thinking about it and figuring it out yourself. Tigers biggest problem is in his head. It may have been triggered by the injury caused him to start over compensating or something and then every little change forces another little change, etc until it becomes a brain full of jumbled mess.
Has anyone ever given thought to weightlighting as the culprit? Tiger has changed his stucture over the years and not totally due to maturing. I noticed this happens to other players as well. They may get stronger and longer but lose their accuracy. I was a weightlifter and even though my flexibility remained my golf game went to hell. When your structure changes so does your accurate movements.
Great article about Tiger. I do think though that you dismiss Elin a little too quick. I agree that in a lot of cases a strong companion can strengthen you, but in some cases it can also change your perspective on things. I'm not close enough to Tiger's game to know his habits, but I do know that when I acquired a wife, my priorities had to become our priorities and sometimes that meant giving a little and not ever mentioning to my wife or anyone that I was. For example, I am an avid bowhunter. Before my wife, I hunted all the time. Morning to night and then back the next day. But when I got married, things changed just a little. Suddenly while in stand I would think of my wife sitting at home alone, wondering if I would be back any minute or not until night fall. She was always supportive and never asked me once to give it up. And of course I still do hunt and quite a lot I might add; however, there is no doubt that the addition of a wife and then eventually children has changed my approach to how much, when and at what commitment.
I think people mis-understand the Elin theory. I'm not saying that she demands he not practice or that she has put her foot down and told him he can't golf. I'm saying that he, being a gentleman and someone in love for another, does the right thing by her and in some cases that may mean less golf. I mean is there any doubt in anyone's mind that if Tiger played 28 or 30 events a year that he too would win more tournaments. Certainly he would. But he doesn't play more events. Why? I don't know the answer to that question and only he does. But what I do know is that when I'm at the range hitting golf balls and it get's to the end of my first bucket and I want to hit another one, I start thinking about my wife, at home, my kids, at home, bed time stories and watching TV as a family. They all know I love golf and they support my practice, but I, in my heart and in the back of my mind know that they love spending time with me and hitting one more bucket means they can't.
I don't think the Elin theory is that far out of whack. And it doesn't mean Tiger is a bad person or that Elin is. In fact, quite the contrary. It means he's human and does things that most of us do out of respect and love.
Something to ponder.
Email your thoughts to George White