Tiger Woods withdrew from yet another tournament Thursday. This time it was the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines, as Woods failed to make it through the 12th hole due to back issues.
At this point, where does the 39-year-old Woods go from here?
“Well, first thing is, he’s got to get healthy enough to practice,” Woods’ former swing coach Hank Haney said on Tiki and Tierney. “That’s been a problem since 2008 when these injuries first started. So, how much practice time has he missed over that period of time? That’s a big issue. And he’s got issues he has to address with his game. His golf game is seemingly hurting his back. He obviously needs to fix that first so he can stay out there on the practice round. And then he’s got this issue with the driver, which is huge. His driving is just getting worse and worse and worse. It’s well below the 50 percent fairway range, and (he hits) just so many wild shots.
“He’s got big issues with the short game now,” Haney continued. “When you add all that on top of it, he’s got the issue with the fact that he needs reps and he needs to practice and play in tournaments. So there’s just so many things that are piling up right now, and there’s not much time before Augusta – and there’s not much time, relatively speaking, between now and realistically the end of his career because he is 39 years old.”
Woods has had several swing coaches in his career, including Butch Harmon, Haney, Sean Foley and now Chris Como. Just how much has Woods’ swing truly changed over the years?
“I think clearly it’s changed some, there’s no doubt about it,” Haney said. “When he first worked with Butch, he was way, way across the line at the top of his swing. His club face was closed. He kind of worked on that and that got almost to where I thought it needed to be, and I just pushed him the rest of the way to get the golf club more on line. It changed his grip a little bit. After Foley immediately changed his grip back to something else, he worked on a different move, staying a little more on his left side, bending over more. So even though they’re subtle changes, they’re pretty big changes to any golfer.
“With Como, I don’t know what he’s doing,” Haney continued. “He’s loosened it’s up. It’s freer, there’s no doubt about that. That’s where he’s got some speed back. But the problem is that’s not really where his issue is. He keeps talking about speed all the time. But he was 186th last year in greens and regulations. He was 184th from 50-125 yards. He’s 160th in scrambling. That doesn’t have anything to do with speed. Speed’s not going to fix those problems. So there’s changes, there’s no doubt about it. And it does take time. But it shouldn’t be like this. It shouldn’t take this time – and that doesn’t have anything to do with the short game.”
Tiki Barber asked Haney, who helped Woods to six major championships, if Woods should talk to a sports psychologist. That might help, Haney said, but that isn’t the main issue.
“When you look at the statistics and you look at his ball striking and you look at these holes in the game – he’s missing greens from 100 yards,” Harmon said. “That’s not because he just isn’t mentally there or something. He’s making just bad golf swings. It starts with first getting healthy, though. If he’s not healthy enough to practice, then nothing else even has a chance. Obviously this is a complex situation, and certainly a better thought process wouldn’t hurt. But I don’t see Tiger enlisting the help of any sports psychologist.”