Woods needs one thing at this time: Butch Harmon

By John FeinsteinJune 9, 2015, 11:10 am

During the 1992 presidential campaign, James Carville, who managed the message for Bill Clinton, kept a sign on his desk that has since become the rallying cry for almost anyone and everyone who has run for President: “The economy, stupid.”

Carville’s point was both simple and direct: When you cut through all the rhetoric of a campaign, it is the state of the economy – and what a candidate proposes to do about it – that decides elections. 

Perhaps Tiger Woods should consider hiring Carville.

When you cut to the heart of the train wreck that Woods’ golf game is right now, it isn’t about a two-way miss, taking an inch off his driver, looking at old video, whether his back hurts, his knees are bothering him or whether he needs yet another new teacher. 

It’s about what’s between his ears, stupid. 

There’s no doubting that Woods is as physically gifted as anyone who has ever played. But what made him so unbelievably dominant from that first Masters win in 1997 to his last major victory at the 2008 U.S. Open was his mind.

Woods was smarter, tougher, meaner and more confident than anyone. What’s more, the guys who were trying to compete with him KNEW he was smarter, tougher and meaner. He made every putt that mattered, found ways to get up and down that weren’t possible and, on days when his golf swing wasn’t what he wanted, still figured out how to score. 



Remember Rocco Mediate’s reaction when Woods made the 12-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole on Sunday to create the playoff at Torrey Pines in 2008?

“I knew he was going to make it,” Rocco stated.

Everyone knew he was going to make it because that’s who Tiger Woods was in those days. 

Of all the remarkable rounds Woods has played in his career, those who witnessed it will tell you that his second round at the 2004 U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills might have been as impressive as anything they’ve ever seen. Woods was in his Hank Haney swing transition and was having trouble finding the planet off the tee. If it were possible to have a three-way miss going, he would have had it. No one had any idea where the ball might be going when he took the club back. 

Woods shot 1-under 69 that day. He finished T-17 that week but the argument can be made that any other player hitting the ball that poorly wouldn’t have sniffed the cut. Or, if they had somehow made the weekend, an 85 might very well have shown up on Saturday. 

That would never happen to Woods back then. On the final day of that Open, when the USGA lost the greens, (stroke average was 78.7 and no one broke par) the still-struggling Woods shot 76. In those conditions, the Woods of today might not have broken 90. 

One of the most underrated parts of Woods’ greatness has always been his ability to grind. That’s part of the reason why he once made 142 straight cuts and why he always appeared to be a threat even when he was way behind. He’s still grinding. He DID make the cut at both The Players and the Memorial – both times making putts on his final hole on Friday to make the weekend on the number. 

There’s no give up in him, just as there has never been give up in the game’s greatest players. It’s why Jack Nicklaus not only won that Masters at 46 but had a chance on Sunday at Augusta when he was 58. It’s why Tom Watson came within 2 inches of winning the British Open at 59. 

Woods isn’t going to give up, but he needs more than a great work ethic to become a good or very good or even great player again. Right now he’d be fighting for his life on the Web.com Tour. 

What he needs is Butch Harmon. He needs to go to Harmon – fly to Las Vegas to see him – and say: “Butch, I know hindsight is 20-20, but I never should have fired you in 2002. I had won seven of the previous 11 majors when I fired you at Muirfield that summer. I’d won a Tiger Slam and I was halfway to a calendar slam when I fired you. 

“I played some great golf with Hank Haney teaching me but I lost two-and-half-years (10 majors) making the change and even when I got it, I wasn’t the player I’d been with you. I won six more majors because I was still the best player out there, but I wasn’t miles ahead of everyone. 

“I know you aren’t going to stop working with Phil Mickelson and I know how busy you are with all your pupils during majors. So how about this: Once or twice a month, I’ll fly to Vegas. We’ll spend a day together. We’ll work on the range some, on the golf course some, on the putting green some. Then we’ll just talk over lunch, over dinner, you name it. 

“You tell me how to become Tiger Woods again. Or at least some semblance of him. I’m not yet 40. Guys win majors in their 40s. 

“Here’s a blank check. Fill in the number and let’s get to work.”

Remember, Harmon cracked open the door a few months back when he said he’d be willing to talk to Woods. What exactly does Woods have to lose by asking Harmon for a meeting? His pride? Could it be any worse than shooting 82 at Phoenix or 85 at Muirfield Village? Could it be worse than being the object of sympathy among golf circles? 

Even if Harmon said “no” it couldn’t possibly be worse. And it could give Woods a chance to find himself one more time before it’s too late. Woods was transcendent when he worked with Harmon; he was great when he worked with Haney; he had some (non-major) moments with Sean Foley and he’s been lost with Chris Como. There’s a trend. 

Woods doesn’t need to look at video or break down his swing technique. He needs someone to tell him he can be great again, someone he will believe when he hears it. 

Harmon’s a lot like Carville: a no-nonsense, cut-to-the-chase kind of guy. The only reason he wouldn’t say, “it’s between your ears, stupid,” is because he’d likely say it in a much more profane way. 

Which is exactly what Woods needs right now. 

Getty Images

Weather extends Barbasol to Monday finish

By Associated PressJuly 23, 2018, 12:25 am

NICHOLASVILLE, Ky. - A thunderstorm has suspended the fourth round of the PGA Tour's Barbasol Championship until Monday morning.

Sunday's third stoppage of play at Champions Trace at Keene Trace Golf Club came with the four leaders - Hunter Mahan, Robert Streb, Tom Lovelady and Troy Merritt at 18 under par - and four other contenders waiting to begin the round.

The tournament will resume at 7:30 a.m. on Monday. Lightning caused one delay, and play was stopped earlier in the afternoon to clear water that accumulated on the course following a morning of steady and sometimes-heavy rain.

Inclement weather has plagued the tournament throughout the weekend. The second round was completed Saturday morning after being suspended by thunderstorms late Friday afternoon.

The resumption will mark the PGA Tour's second Monday finish this season. Jason Day won the Farmers Insurance Open in January after darkness delayed the sixth playoff hole, and he needed just 13 minutes to claim the victory.

Getty Images

Watch: Spectator films as Woods' shot hits him

By Will GrayJuly 23, 2018, 12:07 am

It was a collision watched by millions of fans on television, and one that came at a pivotal juncture as Tiger Woods sought to win The Open. It also gave Colin Hauck the story of a lifetime.

Hauck was among dozens of fans situated along the left side of the 11th hole during the final round at Carnoustie as the pairing of Woods and Francesco Molinari hit their approach shots. After 10 holes of nearly flawless golf, Woods missed the fairway off the tee and then pulled his iron well left of the target.

The ball made square contact with Hauck, who hours later tweeted a video showing the entire sequence - even as he continued to record after Woods' shot sent him tumbling to the ground:

The bounce initially appeared fortuitous for Woods, as his ball bounded away from thicker rough and back toward the green. But an ambitious flop shot came up short, and he eventually made a double bogey to go from leading by a shot to trailing by one. He ultimately shot an even-par 71, tying for sixth two shots behind Molinari.

For his efforts as a human shield, Hauck received a signed glove and a handshake from Woods - not to mention a firsthand video account that will be sure to spark plenty of conversations in the coming years.

Getty Images

Molinari retirement plan: coffee, books and Twitter

By Will GrayJuly 22, 2018, 9:35 pm

After breaking through for his first career major, Francesco Molinari now has a five-year exemption on the PGA Tour, a 10-year exemption in Europe and has solidified his standing as one of the best players in the world.

But not too long ago, the 35-year-old Italian was apparently thinking about life after golf.

Shortly after Molinari rolled in a final birdie putt to close out a two-shot victory at The Open, fellow Tour player Wesley Bryan tweeted a picture of a note that he wrote after the two played together during the third round of the WGC-HSBC Champions in China in October. In it, Bryan shared Molinari's plans to retire as early as 2020 to hang out at cafes and "become a Twitter troll":

Molinari is active on the social media platform, with more than 5,600 tweets sent out to nearly 150,000 followers since joining in 2010. But after lifting the claret jug at Carnoustie, it appears one of the few downsides of Molinari's victory is that the golf world won't get to see the veteran turn into a caffeinated, well-read troll anytime soon.

Getty Images

Molinari had previously avoided Carnoustie on purpose

By Rex HoggardJuly 22, 2018, 9:17 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Sometimes a course just fits a player’s eye. They can’t really describe why, but more often than not it leads to solid finishes.

Francesco Molinari’s relationship with Carnoustie isn’t like that.

The Italian played his first major at Carnoustie, widely considered the toughest of all The Open venues, in 2007, and his first impression hasn’t really changed.

“There was nothing comforting about it,” he said on Sunday following a final-round 69 that lifted him to a two-stroke victory.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


In fact, following that first exposure to the Angus coast brute, Molinari has tried to avoid Carnoustie, largely skipping the Dunhill Links Championship, one of the European Tour’s marquee events, throughout his career.

“To be completely honest, it's one of the reasons why I didn't play the Dunhill Links in the last few years, because I got beaten up around here a few times in the past,” he said. “I didn't particularly enjoy that feeling. It's a really tough course. You can try and play smart golf, but some shots, you just have to hit it straight. There's no way around it. You can't really hide.”

Molinari’s relative dislike for the layout makes his performance this week even more impressive considering he played his last 37 holes bogey-free.

“To play the weekend bogey-free, it's unthinkable, to be honest. So very proud of today,” he said.