by Jeff Skinner
I thought I was hallucinating when I checked Tiger’s stats during yesterday’s back nine. I did a double take when I saw he was at 100% in driving accuracy. He led the tournament in fairways hit and was tied for eleventh in greens in regulation at the time. He hasn’t had stats like that since he was on the Mike Douglas Show. A missed eighteenth fairway kept him from being perfect off the tee but it was an extraordinarily successful day of driving for Tiger. Strangely enough his missed fairway was the result of a three wood from the tee, not his driver. Tiger admitted that he has changed the loft on his driver to 10 degrees, up from 9.5 degrees. That should prompt a surge on Nike drivers at the pro shops, as we all want to be like Tiger.
At the end of the day Tiger was tied for first in driving accuracy and tied for fourteenth in greens in regulation. He finished tied for fifty-first in driving distance with a 287.5 average. Is this the same Tiger Woods? Usually he bombs it twenty yards wide of the fairway, finds a way to get out of jail and two putts for par or drains one for a birdie. This day of hitting from the short grass obviously effected Tiger’s putter. He needed twenty nine putts in his round and was tied for fifty-first in putts per round. The leader, Luke Donald shot a 64 and used a tournament record twenty putts.
Could it be that Tiger is testing his retooled swing and his new equipment in preparation for the US Open? With no disrespect to Jack Nicklaus and his wonderful Memorial Tournament, it’s all about the majors for Tiger. Phil and Tiger have been known to use the events leading up to a major to test out their changes and adjustments. Tiger thinks he is getting close. “The swing is starting to come around,” he said. ‘I’m starting to feel good now. It’s been a long time. I’m starting to get my power back. Everything is starting to come around now.” If this is the “New Healthy Tiger” that Hank Haney has been talking about we could see some fireworks very soon. If Tiger can combine today’s driving with his normally deadly putter he’ll need to make room for a few more trophies, like the one at the US Open.