SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – When we last saw Tiger Woods in competition, early last month at his own Hero World Challenge, his short game around the greens left plenty to be desired, as he duffed nine chip shots during those four rounds.
Don’t expect a repeat at this week’s Waste Management Phoenix Open.
“I was caught between techniques, between my old release pattern and body movement when I was working with [former instructor] Sean [Foley] and then my new release pattern,” he explained. “We had to basically just hit thousands upon thousands upon thousands of chips and just get it out of there, and now it's better.”
As for the rest of his game, Woods is optimistic entering his first start of the year.
“We have done some really good work,” he said. “We have a game plan we need to get to. Each stage, you know, we're ahead of schedule on each stage of the game plan, and, you know, that's a good sign. Overall, I'm very pleased to go out there and hit shots. As you saw out there, I'm cranking up speed. Speed's coming back up. It's going to be a fun year.”
Woods sounded especially excited about his game off the tee.
“The happiest part, I'm driving it; it felt great, driving my ball,” he said. “What I think I need to work on a little bit here is getting the speed of these greens, because as I said, in your head, you assume hard greens with a lot of spring to them are going to be fast, but they're not fast. They spring but they putt slow. So I need to do some work to try to overcome the mental hurdle to make sure I can hit the putts hard, even though I know coming into the greens I have to throw the ball straight up in the air, play for a big hop – (on) chips, play for two big hops before the ball starts thinking about stopping.”