What should be next for Tiger?
By JIM O'SHEA
College Contributor Network
In some people's eyes, the PGA Tour season officially begins this week with the first World Golf Championship of the year. At the Cadillac Championship, every one of the top 50 players in the world is in the field. The cream of the crop, indeed.
But one name in particular will not be there. A man who has been the "world golf champion" for years: Tiger Woods.
Woods has not played since withdrawing after 11 holes at the Farmers Insurance Open in early February. He could be seen grabbing his back and in obvious pain. After the tournament, he was not only aggravated with his injury, but also with his game. Tiger said he was not competing at the highest level and vowed to not come back until he felt he could compete again.
So from the man himself, it was not just his back that was a problem. The week before, Woods missed the cut at the Waste Management Phoenix Open after a career-worst 82 in the second round. He had almost as many double bogeys or worse (3) as birdies (4). Woods was clearly not himself, or at least not the guy we're so used to seeing dominate week in and week out.
After saying how he had worked tirelessly on his chipping in the offseason, Woods still seemed to have the yips around the green. In his second-round 82, he saved par from off the green only two out of ten times. He also only hit eight greens in regulation, so his iron and approach game was also off.
Tiger has shown that he is clearly not the same guy on the course anymore. He has not won a tournament since the Bridgestone Invitational in August 2013. And the stat everyone cares about: he has not won a major since the U.S. Open in 2008, which is coming up on seven years!
But enough with the bad Tiger. It's time to focus on the good and how he can finally turn things around.
Woods needs to stop focusing on the mechanics of his swing so much. His new swing coach, Chris Como, is a big advocate of technology and finding the "perfect swing." But Tiger's old coach, Hank Haney, recently said he has no clue why Tiger ever changed his swing. The man won four majors in a row at one point!
He clearly, clearly has the talent and even just two years ago he won five tournaments in the same season. So, it has not left him. It is more in between the ears for the 14-time major champion than anything.
Woods is not as mentally strong as he was in his prime. Players have even said they are not scared of him as they used to be.
Maybe Woods is too competitive, trying to be too perfect and coming back from injuries too soon. This has led to multiple withdrawals from tournaments and plain embarrassment for him.
Tiger needs to return to the basics. On the golf course and off. He needs to start trusting his swing more and know he can hit any ball at any time. He also needs to discover why he plays this game and loves it so much. He looks on the course like he just is not having fun anymore. Other golfers have said this before about themselves, so it is not something new.
He can return to his old form, in the sense of competing in tournaments again. How soon will that happen? I really don't know. Whenever Woods is ready, like he said. But he needs to actually be ready, inside and out, and stop trying to fool himself and fans.
Maybe the Masters in about a month's time is the place for 'The Return.' Woods has put on the green jacket four times in his illustrious career. And he has come off of a long hiatus before in 2010 and played well at Augusta National (T-4).
Nobody knows when Tiger will return to competition. I just hope it is when he is ultimately ready to start playing for the love of the game again and be able to show off the Tiger smile he has made famous.
Jim O'Shea is a junior at Syracuse University studying Broadcast and Digital Journalism. Born and raised in Houston, TX. He's an avid Texans and Texas Rangers fan. Also golf is his favorite sport. Follow him on Twitter: @JimOShea4