Can Tiger Woods win in 2017?
An hour or so before Woods committed on Wednesday to making his 2017 PGA Tour debut at the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines, that was one of the questions analysts Johnny Miller, David Duval and Mark Rolfing were asked in an NBC Sports media conference call.
The trio was quizzed about the big storylines going into ’17 and, of course, it didn’t take long for Tiger’s name to come up.
Here’s what they had to say:
Miller: “The hardest thing for Tiger is just the attention that he draws and the media coverage and the pressure that his unbelievable career has created. Let's say he's tied for the lead going into Sunday. It gets so amped up, what people expect, and it's just hard. He's got to break the ice . . .
“I was really impressed with his putting [in the Bahamas]. I was impressed with his irons. I was impressed with his slower tempo. When you swing slower, it's much easier to deliver the face where you want to at impact. He had that blazing fast move coming down when he was younger, but it was much easier to control with an iron than it was with his driver. But I like that he's swinging a little slower.
“If he wants to win, he's got to get a dependable shot off the tee, like Dustin Johnson has gone to a cut, or whatever he wants to hit that he can do in his sleep. No. 2, I still think he's got the heebie-jeebies, chipping around the green, little pitch shots, and I'm not sure if he has a lot of confidence or not. I saw a couple of mediocre shots in the Bahamas in that area. Those are the areas, the driver, the expectations and obviously the chipping.
“He’s going to be a lot of fun to watch. He's going to really help the TV ratings.”
Duval: “Golf swing-wise, I really liked the iron swings, the knockdowns again, the controlling of the club face . . . The driver, I think, is going to be a question mark. He was not ever the straightest but certainly seemed to always hit them that way when he needed to. It’s a little bit different golf swing now. The hands are a little bit higher as he swings the driver going into impact, which lowers the club face and opens it, and that means you have to have a lot of timing going into the golf ball to have a square, consistent hit and not have it going left or right. If he could work on that a little bit, I wouldn't be shocked at all to see him win in 2017. I think in today's game, with these players that are so overpowering, he's going to have to gain some accuracy and consistency off the tee to compete week in and week out like he wants to.”
Rolfing: “Can he win? I think it'll be difficult, but I would say yes. All the stars are going to have to align, and I think it's going to have to be the kind of a golf course where he really isn't trying to overpower it.”