NBC’s Johnny Miller believes Tiger Woods will carve out a second career and “win quite a few times.” He sees Woods getting his confidence back.
Golf Channel’s Brandel Chamblee is more skeptical.
Miller, Chamblee, Curt Byrum and Dan Hicks came together for a spirited teleconference Thursday to advance their television work for NBC and Golf Channel during next week’s Presidents Cup broadcasts. It ended up being dominated by Tiger talk.
“Tiger Woods’ decision to once again change his golf swing is the most baffling thing I’ve seen in sports,” Chamblee said.
Chamblee said he believes Woods’ decisions to change his swing multiple times after winning the ’97 Masters might ultimately be what costs him the chance to break Jack Nicklaus’ record for most major championship victories.
“I agree that Tiger’s swing was better in 1999, 2000 and 2001, but the Tiger Woods of 2007 to 2009 was almost, step by step, as good,” Chamblee said. “It’s why I say [the multiple swing changes] are the most baffling thing in sports that I have ever seen.
“The period where Tiger won 7 of 11 majors (1999-2002) and then when he won six of 14 majors (2005-08), those two periods where he won with two different swing philosophies, were separated by periods where he went 10 majors without winning. Now, he justifies the prolific run of victories by saying, `I changed my swing,’ but he did it at the cost of going those run of 10 majors without winning.”
Chamblee believes the winless adjustment periods it took Woods to master his multiple swing changes have hurt him more than they’ve helped him.
“If he decided not to change his swing in ’98 or 2003, he would already have broken Jack Nicklaus’ record,” Chamblee said.
If you’re thinking Woods had to change from Harmon’s swing techniques to protect his ailing knee, Chamblee disagrees.
“I’ve seen no changes in his swing that would alleviate pressure on his knee,” Chamblee said after the teleconference.
Miller and Byrum said they saw some positive improvement in Woods’ swing in the first round of the Australian Open.
“Tiger will have a second career like I did, and he will win quite a few times,” Miller said. “He’ll figure it out. This might be the start. I can see him getting his confidence back. He may not be the Tiger of old, but he has too much talent not to be one of the best players in the world.”
Chamblee believes Woods still faces daunting challenges as he remakes his swing under Sean Foley as coach.
“When you look at the injury, the scandal, the swing changes and all the other things Tiger Woods has done PR wise that have not helped him, I just don’t see how he’s going to turn this thing around,” Chamblee said. “Any one of those is enough to rob you of that little bitty edge it takes . . .
“The pre-scandal, pre-Foley Tiger and post-scandal, post-Foley Tiger are two entirely different golfers. The old Tiger is gone. What he creates from this point forward will be very interesting.'