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Tiger’s Win and New Swing?

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Contributor:
Stan Sutherland
Stan Sutherland
Tiger Woods

According to espn.com’s Bob Harig:

“But what made this victory so satisfying to Woods was the way he played all week -- despite a second-round 74, his highest score in nearly two years. Woods hit 49 of 56 fairways, matching his best performance ever, which came at the 1998 Masters. For the first time since 2003 at Bay Hill, he hit every fairway in a round.”

Tiger would be the first to person to agree he’s not the straightest driver on the tour. So what’s changed now that he’s being praised for his “driving” stats at The Memorial?

We have to keep in mind that “driving” includes taking a 3-wood, 5-wood etc. off the tee.

Gwen Knapp at sfgate.com
writes, “Tiger reinvents himself one more time” and then follows up with, “Above all, Tiger continues to reinvent himself, as his swing undergoes style changes more often than an Oscar host.”

Aha! So Ms Knapp suggests it’s a swing change that been the catalyst for change.

And if so who can or will take the credit for creating the change? Perhaps Michael Bamberger at golf.com can provide the answer.

Hank Haney, Tiger’s swing coach who is always getting a hard time from the media says of Tiger, "He has a new leg. He has a new swing because his knee isn't flopping around like it once was. The media give him no slack. It wears me out, and it wears him out as well. I told Tiger about all this crap about me being fired, and he smiled and said, 'Welcome to my world.'"

So maybe it is a swing change.

Then there’s this insight, “But then Tiger went to Ohio, and there everything changed. Jack set him free. Nicklaus, generally straightforward when talking to reporters, said he felt that Tiger, in his return from surgery, was making a swing that protected his left knee.”

So maybe Tiger’s got Jack Nicklaus to thank for his “driving” accuracy.

But there again maybe Tiger’s been listening to Johnny Miller all along.

“Last week, before the Memorial, Miller said in an interview, "I've had a dream about 20 times where he comes to me and asks me for a lesson." In Miller's dream he instructs Woods to hit shots with a slight pause at the top of his swing, as he did from 1997 through 2000. Miller also asks Woods to soften the squat move he has been making in recent years, where his head and body come too close to the ball on the downswing and he gets in his own way.”

For those of us who are skeptical that it’s a swing change that’s dramatically improved Tiger’s accuracy, we ask you to consider this from the Golfmagic correspondent:

“US Open golf: What will be in Tiger’s bag”

 “Tiger Woods rarely makes changes to his equipment but ahead of next week's US Open at Bethpage Black he has been tweaking his driver…”

“But wait there’s more!” as the golf club equipment super salesman would no doubt say.

“He [Tiger] has added half a degree of loft to his exclusive 380 cc 9.5-degree Nike SQ Dymo driver and switched back to the tried and tested Mitsubishi Diamana Whiteboard 83-gram shaft.”

And the telling passage in the golfmagic.com article which supports the idea it may not be a major swing change is, "I went with a little more loft," said Woods. "As my release has changed over time with Hank [Haney], I needed a little more loft to get the ball in the air; so a little more stem. I'm still hitting it just as far but probably a different way."

In truth it’s probably a bit of both, some fine tuning of his swing and more loft on his driver.

Good luck Tiger at Bethpage Black and I do believe you meet the criterion for playing this great golf course which has a sign prominently displayed for those who dare to dream:

“The Black Course Is An Extremely Difficult Course Which We Recommend Only For Highly Skilled Golfers”

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