THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – When Tiger Woods was asked about the return of his signature stinger shot four weeks ago at the Australian Open his answer was all at once encouraging and vague.
“I’m in a position to hit it,” Woods said following his first-round 69 in demanding conditions at The Lakes. “I hadn’t been in a position to hit that shot.”
Many of Woods’ frat brothers confirmed the return of the low, boring shot, but in practical terms few could, or in Woods’ case would, explain what facilitated the return.
On Wednesday at the Chevron World Challenge, GTC caught up with Woods’ swing coach Sean Foley and asked him to explain the math of the rediscovered move.
In simplest terms, the science of the stinger is rooted in the path of the clubface at impact.
“Basically you have to be able to steepen the attack angle and when you do that the sweet spot, the path of the golf club is moving out to the right so typically when guys get steep they hook it,” said Foley as he walked with Woods during Wednesday’s pro-am at Sherwood Country Club.
“So if you noticed his practice swing there was a lot of swing and shift to the left. The more I’m hitting down the more I have to swing to the left.”
The go-to shot was crucial for Woods at The Lakes (third place), where a strong, steady wind blew throughout the week, and at the Presidents Cup (2-3-0) which featured gusts up to 35 mph from three different directions throughout the week.
Foley’s take on how Woods and the stinger parted ways, however, was even more telling as it applies to the evolution of an ever-changing action.
“He lost his stinger because he got so underneath the plane he couldn’t stop the club. In order to hit the stinger you have to be able to stop it. You can’t be underneath,” Foley said. “He was just getting more and more stuck.”
For those who will process that as a perceived slight against any of Woods’ former swing coaches, Foley went on to explain is was a matter of math not mechanics that produced the conditions that turned the stinger from asset to Achilles Heel.
“If you’re hitting down on an iron, if you want to hit it straight, the plane has to be out to in,” he said. “To hit it low you have to be very steep, but if you get very steep the path is moving to the right.”