I’ve been slogging through the golf blogs and forums. After too much time reading unbelievably distasteful, outlandishly ignorant, and scintillatingly insightful remarks, I felt I had to somehow justify my time to myself. Continue reading
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: How many other players in a major (if not Major) tournament could end up 62nd in driving accuracy, 40th in greens in regulation, and 32nd in putts per round and still come in 8th? I’ll tell you how many. Zippideedoodaa.
That said, we’re still worried about Tiger, aren’t we? I know I am. I fret all the time. At times like this, when things look their bleakest, I lift my gnawed pencil and try to identify my worry and break it down into essential elements, so I can get a handle on the problem and get back to functioning fully in my life.
The big questions about Tiger’s swing
What I want to know is:
1. What on Earth is wrong with Tiger?
2. Who is to blame?
3. How will he fix it before the Memorial Tournament on June 4?
I’ve narrowed this down to two possibilities:
Possibility #1: Hank Haney has insidiously and single-handedly ruined Tiger’s swing over the past five years
Here is what well-known golf teacher Paul Shepherd said:
“The only guy who can beat Tiger is Haney.”
Pithy, succinct, scary. He wasn’t alone in echoing this dark opinion as to the cause of Tiger’s driver woes. But is it true?
Correction: Was it true? Paul made this statement in 2007. At the time, Tiger’s driver was misbehaving and many in the press were ready to tar and feather Hank Haney. Frankly, I was frightened. Tiger was falling apart before our very eyes (even in the midst of winning seven tournaments and later the FedEx Cup).
Still, back then rumors flew out of control, some saying in bold type that Tiger had canned Hank. This forced Hank to step before the press and tell them that, no, Tiger hadn’t fired him. He also provided a set of convincing statistics that proved, in fact, that Tiger’s overall driving averages were not horrific at all. No one, of course, believed the stats. They weren’t as mouth-watering as the headlines.
Verdict: Is Hank guilty of tying Tiger’s swing in knots?
I say, not. Today, it’s two years later, 2009. The last time I looked, Tiger was still swinging the golf club all by himself. Given this, you’d think he would be the first one to know when something was working and when it was not, then stop doing the things that are not working. You’d also think Tiger would recognize the source of any bad advice and eliminate it.
But, although reports went flying to the contrary, Hank has not been fired after five years. By all accounts they are still friends and, like every other golfer in the world, Tiger is working out the kinks in his game. Hank is innocent.
Footnote: Some believe that Tiger’s woes in 2007 were symptomatic of his knee injury that peaked during the 2008 U.S. Open. The logical deduction would be that his knee is to blame for his current 2009 problems, as well. But this time, is it recovery or re-injury…or neither? Maybe it’s a little knee-jerk reaction to the rust between his sideburns.
Possibility #2: Tiger has caught the Barkley Spine Flu
I think that this is a perfectly reasonable deduction, given the close proximity of Hank Haney to the ill swing of Mr. Barkley over the past months. In fact, I don’t know why the medical community hasn’t done its job and looked into this.
Contagious infections like this can spread like wildfire through the professional tours. If someone dares to whisper the word “shank,” golfers clasp their hands over their ears and start chanting, raise crucifixes to the sky, and head for the nearest tavern in an attempt to wash the cursed word out of their brains.
But they never can. It takes time, and often shrinks. You can’t tell your mind not to do something, and it is equally difficult to tell it the opposite. You can’t fool your own mind because your own mind knows what you are up to and puts a stop to it.
“Don’t hit it right” you think as you take the club back. But the ball goes to the right, doesn’t it? Of course it does. Then you think, “Okay, if that’s the way you’re going to be, I order you to hit it to the right!” And what happens? That’s right, you hit it right.
I wonder if all of this has seeped into Hank’s mind and soul. I wonder if Hank comes back from his TV shoots with Barkley unwittingly infected with what I call the Barkley Spine Flu, or BSF. I wonder if in Hank’s feverish delirium he has subtly influenced Tiger’s swing.
I wonder (and I hope to heaven I’m wrong) that at the Memorial we’ll see Tiger bend over at the waist on his downswing, kind of looking like he’s trying to take a sip from a Big Gulp on the ground, while yipping and dipping through an attempt to lash at the ball with a club that is suddenly two feet too long.
Could happen. Tiger could be infected and not know it. Hank might not know it. That’s how these things start, with a carrier. There is no blame, just victims.
Verdict: Did Barkley infect Haney who took it to Woods?
All I can say is that on Monday night at 10 p.m. on The Golf Channel, we’ll find out if Hank successfully cured Barkley’s marionette-like swing. If so, and I’m right in this theory, there might be hope that Haney can pull the right strings for Tiger.
Footnote: Here is a chilling video of Tiger actually swinging like Charles Barkley. (It “appears” to be in a promotion for the new Tiger Woods video game from EA Sports.)
I was watching that odd couple on TV, you know, Charles and Hank. Hank is the perfectionist and Charles makes a mess of every swing. They’re good friends, but can they make the relationship fruitful for both without someone’s head exploding?
That’s the riveting premise. But what does it mean to your game?
Can You Judge a Player’s Game by the Laughter?
Did you ever have a club that just didn’t work for you? A club that, in fact, you felt had something against you?
Excuse the old golf pun, but I feel lower than a heel. You’d be low, too, if your beloved five-iron had betrayed you.
That’s right. My five-iron, the club that kept me walking the straight and narrow round after round, year after year, memory after memory…my trusted five-iron has given me the shaft. Continue reading
Today’s Sybase broadcast was another example. The on-air team, nice people, were chatting, describing, and noting events during the round, as if nothing special at all was happening. Continue reading