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Where did it go wrong for Tiger?

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Rob Hodgetts | 12:31 UK time, Saturday, 18 July 2009

Tiger Woods's missed cut in the Open shocked everyone at Turnberry.

The world number one, chasing his 15th major title, was the overwhelming favourite after winning three times in his eight events since returning from knee surgery.

But he looked out-of-sorts from day one and skulked home early after missing only his second cut in 48 majors.

We caught up with BBC Sport's golf experts to hear their views on Woods:

Peter Alliss:
"It's very difficult to criticise Tiger. He's just had a bad week. It's like Don Bradman coming into his final innings and he's out for nought. He didn't play very well but it's only about the fifth bad week he's had in 13 years. He will regroup and come back and probably win another couple before the end of the year.

"I think his problems are quite small, but he's won all these things without any help from me. When he tries to hit it too hard he goes up and down. He just does elementary things, I think. If he just stood up and swung he would be OK. He came, he saw, Tiger Tiger was not burning too bright. That's the end of it."

Ken Brown:
"He's obviously been practising his down-the-shaft driver, trying to get a little slidey cutty one from left to right. But on a few tee shots the ball started left and went further left.

"Coming into the second round I thought he would either come up with something, or the breeze would accentuate the problems, and it was the latter.

"His tee shots off the 9th and 10th were scary bad ones - he pushed those right as he was frightened of pulling them.

"To say there is something fundamentally wrong with Tiger would be ridiculous - he has won three times this year - but to see him not make the cut was a huge shock.

"Although he says it is, I don't think his swing is quite as good as it was in 1999 and 2000. But you kind of feel like you're criticising God.

"He's trying to get fast from the top, and there's also a lot more head movement. With his old swing he would swing around the hub of the wheel, around his neck, and nothing much moved. It was a very uncomplicated action. Now, as he comes into the ball his head goes down and as he's hitting it he straightens up and it goes up.

"Hank Haney, his coach, was a big Ben Hogan fan and it appears they are trying to move his swing to a slightly more Ben Hogan style of playing.

Tiger Woods is likely to conduct some remedial work on his swing with coach Hank Haney (left)

"You can't play well every week and this was a blip but he's not far awry. Lady luck was also against him. But if your game is not right, with tricky conditions and a little bit more tension, golf can find you out.

"But you still thought on 18 he would chip in and make the weekend. That's the miracle man he is."

Mark James:
"He played extremely poorly and the stats do not lie. He was 98th in greens-in-regulation for the first two rounds out of the 156-man field and that's not good enough.

"He was just about managing to hang on to most of his iron shots but on the longer stuff he wasn't swinging well enough to hit the shots that a golf course of this difficulty demands.

"It's a surprise. Even when he's playing badly we've come to expect him to finish top 10.

"He will be thinking all the way back home about his swing and what he needs to do next. He will be wondering whether to continue working on what he has been working on, or whether to ask advice from somewhere else.

"It's difficult when you are used to working with one coach like he is with Hank, but I think maybe they have got to take a slightly different direction because he is so good at preparing himself for majors that when he looks back and thinks of how he played this week, it will hurt him.

"In my opinion there is too much movement of the head. It goes down a lot at the start of the downswing, and up at impact, which is too soon.

"He is swinging a little flattish with the longer clubs and in his heyday he was much steeper with the club on the way back which I preferred; I felt the club face was square for a longer period during the swing.

"He is trying to get rid of the leg snap to ease pressure on his left knee, but it's a question of how to fit that in to the rest of the swing. The way he was swinging this week it wasn't really taking pressure off the left knee, if anything it was putting pressure on it because he was jumping at the ball to try and square the club face up.

"Using a lot of irons off the tee would have been perfect for him but when the wind gets up on a course like this you simply have to get the bigger stuff out and that is what found him out eventually."

Wayne Grady:
"He's been struggling for a while with his swing, even back at the Masters, and it's a testament to how brilliant the guy is that he finished sixth. He won at Memorial after keeping the ball on the fairway off the tee, which has been his problem, came sixth at the US Open and won his tournament at Congressional.

"So somewhere in there he's played some great golf, but under the pressure of the Open and the tougher weather he got shown up. There's definitely something in there he needs to work on. The ball is not taking off on the right line. He and Hank need to get together and work it out.

"He'll come back with a vengeance, but it's not the Tiger of 2000 when his swing was incredible and he never looked like hitting a poor shot. Now he looks vulnerable, especially when the weather's bad.

"The swing is very different - it's on a different plane, the position at the top of the backswing is different. He's so strong that when he goes at it about 70%-80% he can get away with everything. But when he tries to go at it hard it just comes apart a bit.

"No-one thinks his way around the course better than Tiger so it's nothing about his game plan. The ball's just not going where he's looking."


  • Comment number 1.

    I love Tiger Woods. He raised the bar and golf has been revolutionised since 1996. He has won majors since Bethpage 2002 but apart from Hoylake and St. Andrews he has either scraped through or on a playoff or on the back of an emotional wave. The miracle shot on the 16th at the Masters in 2005 was followed by a weak bogey on 17th! He was lucky DiMarco didn't beat him! The US Open 2008 will forever be remembered as someone winning at all costs - the stuff of Holywood.

    I completely agree with Ken Brown. His swing of 1999-2001 was flawless. His falling out with Butch (who probably claimed more credit than he deserved afterall Butch has Gulbis and Scott in his stables - need I say more?) probably pushed Tiger to a more dramatic swing change so as to divorce his talents completely from what Butch said he was responsible for. Tiger also stated that Ben Hogan and Moe Norman truly 'owned' their swings. What do great champions do? Strive to be even better. Enter Hank Haney...

    Tiger is Tiger Woods and not Ben Hogan. His current swing is no way near Hogan's in terms of positions and rhythmn. Gary Player compared the two (YouTube video available) and highlighted the components that break down in Tiger's swing when he really cranks one up.

    I would love to see Tiger get rid of that ridiculous Nike driver for a start. Get back the Titleist 975 from the Tiger-Slam. It will not leave him short in driving distance and is so much easier to shape shots with.

    I love Tiger but he needs to ask himself - When was the last major he won and the last tournament for that matter - when he truly dominated the field?!

  • Comment number 2.

    The constant "tinkering" of his swing ( 5 swing changes in 13 years ) is his major fallibity. Yes, he can dominate ( 10 victories of his 89 worldwide have had winning margins of greater than 6 strokes ) when his "A" game is on, but he can be wild when it is not. His left knee has probably been the major cause of such changes ( 3 arthroscopies and 1 major reconstruction )and in my opinion when he gets the "groove" back - we will see some more of his dominating style of golf. The great golfers such as Nicklaus, Hogan, Jones, Snead et al never changed their swings ( Nicklaus did after his young 40's).
    The expectations that the public places on Tiger's performance/domination is unbelievable....everyone has an opinion. Let it rest...33 yrs old - 89 worldwide victories, 68 PGA wins, 14 majors. Many of the4 lesser golfers travel with an entourage - agents, sports psychologist, trainers, swing coach, etc...Tiger went to the Open with his family, a nanny, and a chef. Give the guy a break!


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