by Jeff Skinner
When Tiger Woods won at The Arnold Palmer Invitational two weeks ago the anticipation for the Masters went off the chart. Tiger, Rory, Phil, Mahan, Donald and plenty of other top players were all rolling into form and Tiger was immediately declared the favorite.
Too many prognosticators were ready to hand Tiger another green jacket. There were some very disappointed golfers driving down Magnolia Lane on Sunday evening. Oosthuizen, McIlroy, Westwood, Mickelson, Kuchar and Hanson all had good reason to wonder ‘what if’ on their ride home. But no golfer had more reason to be disappointed than Tiger.
If The Arnold Palmer was Tiger’s “come back party” The Masters was going to be the coronation. He was finally ready to reap the reward of all the “reps” with Sean Foley. He was going to get back in the hunt for Jack’s major record. He was going to blow Augusta away, slip on his fifth green jacket and scream to the world, “I’m back!”
But there was the matter of fairways and greens that seemed to sidetrack him. Tiger simply had his worst Masters since he turned pro. His five over par was his highest score ever at Augusta and he never broke par. Normally he eats the par fives alive but it was the other way around this year. He finished tied for fortieth and his own assessment was harsh: bad driving and bad irons, putting was good.
I found his interviews afterwards a bit odd because he seemed to be smiling as he was describing his poor performance. And his golf swing isn’t his only problem if you ask me.
I’m not going to chastise him for his on course behavior, I’ve given up, and he’s hopeless when it comes to that. I’m talking about his mental state. I think he’s delusional.
“I didn’t hit the ball very good this week, and what’s frustrating is I know what to do, and I just don’t do it,” he said. “I get out there and I just don’t trust it at all. I fall back into the same old patterns again, and I just need to do more reps.”
“If I look back on the week, I played the par-5s atrociously,” he said. “This is a golf course you just have to dominate the par-5s, and I did not do that at all this week.”
“Well, you’re not going to play well every week,” he said. “Unfortunately it was this week for me. I had the wrong ball-striking week at the wrong time.”
Isn’t this the same stuff we were fed a year ago and some months ago and last month? Wasn’t this all worked out? Didn’t his win mean he had conquered his swing changes? I guess not.
Tiger’s swing is only half his problem now. He never looked so lost on the golf course. He says he knows what to do but his actions on the course say something else. Tiger was once the most mentally tough and focused golfer ever. Now he is confused and lost. It’s almost painful to watch.