Blog Entry

Short-game tweaks fuel longer Tiger drought, too

Posted on: March 9, 2011 2:27 pm
Edited on: March 9, 2011 5:12 pm

DORAL, Fla. -- Of all the unsolicited feedback, be it scathing criticism or outright encouragement, that Tiger Woods has received since attempting his latest swing changes, perhaps the most interesting portion has been missed.

It's in his game's very minutaie, so to speak.

Looking back and applying building-contractor terms, the swing changes made under former teachers Butch Harmon and Hank Haney seemed like kitchen renovations. However, the newly minted Sean Foley process is more akin to a complete, 14-club teardown, right to the cinder-block bones of the short game.

Even when his game was otherwise raggedy during the transitional times working with Haney and Harmon, Woods' short game usually kept him in the ballgame. That hasn't yet been the case this season.

At the Cadillac Championship on Wednesday, Woods attempted to explain why his short game has deteriorated over the past few months -- because, for the first time, that phase of the bag has been completely overhauled, too.

Without getting needlessly technical, Woods said his "release" point under Foley also has changed with chips, pitches and putts, so he's had to start anew from scratch in that regard as well.

At age 35, it was pointed out.

"I changed my entire release and how I did it with Hank," Woods said. "You want to have the same type of swing with the putter all the way up to the driver. It's the same motion just smaller, and the pitch shot is the same."

Of course, the degree to whcih the short game should be affected by an overall swing change is debatable and will surely fuel a few fires in the Internet chat-o-sphere. 

"If I use one swing, if I hit thousands of chip shots and only hit a few hundred balls, well if I'm doing the same release that I used to, that's totally contrary to what I'm doing with the swing," he said.

In other words, whereas his short game was able a stable platform from which to build the rest of his game, it's in transition at the moment, too.

Interestingly, though the rounder and flatter Haney swing was a big departure from the Harmon method, Haney said Wednesday that the only adjustments Woods made in the short game during their six years together was in the former world No. 1's bunker play, because sand shots are more akin to a full swing.

"I never instituted any change to his putting or for that matter his chipping or his pitching," Haney said in an email Wednesday.

Harmon, working this week as an analyst for Sky Sports in Europe, heard about Woods' comprehensive short-game revamp from a reporter. In their years together, Harmon said they often worked on the short game, but not as an extension of the full swing.

"Did he really say that?" Harmon said. "I am surprised to hear that."

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