By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- Brandel Chamblee thinks the solution is simple for Tiger Woods.
“He needs to fire Sean [Foley], call Butch [Harmon],” Chamblee said in a teleconference Tuesday. “I think that would get it done right there.”
Woods, who is coming off only the eighth missed cut of his career and his worst-ever performance in the Masters, scoffed at the suggestion.
“Everyone has an opinion, and he's entitled to his,” Woods quipped. “But he's no longer playing anymore, so, so be it.”
Foley, meanwhile, declined to comment, preferring to reference Woods’ statistics. To an extent, he had a point.
Woods ranks 42nd on the PGA TOUR in driving accuracy at 64 percent -- only once in the last five years, in 2009, has he hit more than 60 percent of his fairways -- and is 19th in greens in regulation.
He’s also fourth in total driving and sixth in the all-around category.
Not that Woods hasn’t had his share of struggles.
At Quail Hollow, Woods took 33 putts in the second round. In the Masters, Woods failed to break par in any of his four rounds as he hit just 57 percent of the fairways and 56 percent of the greens.
Just two weeks prior to the Masters, however, Woods won for a seventh time at Bay Hill -- where he led the field in greens in regulation.
“I know he'll never [fire Foley], because he's letting his ego get in the way of common sense,” said Chamblee, who added that Harmon could help Woods find his rhythm again and swing on a flatter plane. “He wants to prove to people he's right. He would rather prove to people he's right than be right.
“He's literally lost the art of the game, and I think Butch could help him.”
For Nick Faldo, he sees Woods’ struggles as more mental than anything else.
“It's self-belief,” Faldo said. “I think when he fears left and the trouble is on the right, we saw this last week, especially the seventh hole at Quail Hollow, the water runs down the right, you need a power fade to feed it in there, and if he fears losing it right, then he pulls it hard left.
“But the real bottom line is for me, he just doesn't have the self-belief, the self-confidence that he obviously had, the Tiger of old, simple as that.”
Woods doesn’t deny that he’s struggled with taking his practice sessions to the course at times while undergoing his latest swing change.
“I've been Ranger Rick before; go out there and stripe it every shot you want, and then you do nothing out there,” he said. “Eventually you stripe it on the range and then you do it at home at your home course, and then you bring it eventually to tournament sites, and eventually to major championships on the back nine on Sunday. There's a process to it, at least in my career there has been. It's worked out OK so far.”
The longer Tiger Woods goes without winning a PGA TOUR event -- something he hasn’t done since 2009 -- the more self-doubt might creep into his game, at least according to Nick Faldo.
“His incredible record in the past, leading after 54 holes and converting was ridiculous,” Faldo said via conference call Tuesday. “But now we have seen about four times when he's been right there, good enough to get into contention but not good enough to finish it off. I think that's when you discover all of those little things that you can't really put your finger on, what it takes to finish it off.
“The bottom line is trust, or self‑belief, self‑confidence in your ability. We have seen a few swings and a few putts that ‑‑ we watch Tiger scratch his head.”
Johnny Miller doesn’t think Woods needs to learn how to win again, but the longer he goes without winning, Miller says, the tougher it will get.
“Even starting with the Masters last year, that great charge on Sunday, it looked like he was going to do it and just sort of fizzed out,” Miller said. “The more of those that he has, the more scar tissue you get, and the tougher it is to make those putts.
”He did win at Sherwood, but I don't know if that totally convinced him that that was a real win. He needs to do it on TOUR with a PGA TOUR win.”
Woods will have his chance this week at a tournament he’s won three times before.
Brandel Chamblee, however, sees a different Woods at age 36.
“People are not intimidated by Tiger Woods anymore,” Chamblee said. “He doesn't hit it as far, he doesn't hit it as high and he doesn't hit it as straight and he's missing a lot of little putts, and late in a golf tournament, which makes him beatable and makes him human and makes him less intimidating.
“When you put all of that together, that is an intangible that Tiger Woods carried like the best shield and the fastest arrow. He beat everybody, because of all of those reasons. But one of them was that he intimidated the devil out of people, and so they are giving him their best shot.”
Woods will have a chance to turn that around beginning Wednesday when he faces Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano in the opening round.
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
Are we in a new era of golf? Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee certainly thinks so.
“It’s another era, and the old Tiger I think is gone,” Chamblee said Thursday during a teleconference with the media in advance of next week’s Presidents Cup. “What he creates from this point forward will be very interesting, but it won’t be anything like the old Tiger.”
Johnny Miller, meanwhile, wasn’t as quick to dismiss a comeback by Woods.
“One thing, he will have a second career, just like I did,” Miller said. “Talent always comes back.”
That seemed to be the case at least in the opening round of the Australian Open, where Woods shot a bogey-free 68 and was in contention in the second round.
Still, Miller knows Woods’ road back to the top of golf won’t be easy after all he’s endured the last two years off the course and on it.
“He just ran into personally, off the course, about as many problems as any guy could have, and then I think he really lost the love of going out in public and playing in front of the public a little bit because there was so much pressure on him,” Miller said. “He had the perfect storm of all the things that can go wrong and get you off your game – whether it be change-of-swing technique – just everything you could have go wrong pretty much went wrong.
“Even now being a captain's pick there's pressure on him. So I think it's really important what he does that first day.”
Woods does have history on his side. In six previous trips to The Presidents Cup he’s compiled an 18-11-1 mark, including going 5-0 in 2009.