Below I break down the state of Tiger’s game coming into the US OPEN, and highlight what is truly the most improved component of Tiger Woods’ game this year. I highlight the part of Tiger’s game which has been missing for years and is now in place.
It may not be what you think.
Q: What is the greatest improvement in Tiger Woods game this season?
Is it Tiger’s putting, scrambling, scoring?
This year Tiger Woods is 17th in putting, with 28.25 putts per round. Tiger is 5th in scrambling, 1st in scoring average. All interesting stats I suppose. None are the most improved components of Tiger’s 2009 game.
Is it Tiger’s driving?
Tiger switched drivers two weeks ago and hit a blistering 14/14 fairways in the final round of the Memorial en route to his 2nd victory this year. His fairway percentage for all four days was 87.5%, the best of his career. Hitting fairways in this week’s US OPEN is crucial and this bodes well for Tiger. But is his driving the biggest improvement in Tiger’s 2009 game? Nope.
Is the knee finally 100%?
Tiger’s knee finally looks good. Earlier this year when Tiger struggled a bit, he said “the knee is fine” when asked by the brilliant golf media. At the Memorial two weeks ago the knee really did look great. Tiger contradicted his early season statements by saying that he has been able to get more practice repetitions in lately since the knee is now better.
So is his biggest improvement for 2009 the knee or his ability to swing without worry? Is it that his lower body and general technique with his legs and hips looks better than it ever has? Naaaa.
If it isn’t all those, what is it?
After Tiger’s amazing chip-in on the 16th at The Masters in 2005 I cringed when I watched the completely uncomfortable and terrible “high five” between Tiger and his caddy Steve Williams. It was a complete miss. Myself, Golf Grouch and many other web sites commented on this.
For the next 3-4 years I’ve nearly thrown up in my mouth on several occasions as I’ve watched terrible high five after terrible high five between Tiger and Steve. Sometimes they miss completely. Sometimes Tiger tries a high five but Steve grabs his hand. Then Tiger pulls his hand away. It really bothers me and looks very odd, like these guys are completely out of sync.
What I saw at The Memorial
At The Memorial I saw something different. I saw Tiger and Steve actually land a perfect high five. I rolled my DVR back in disbelief but sure enough, they really hit one. I swear that was the first one ever between these guys.
A few holes later Tiger hit a great shot and they executed another high five. Bingo. They landed it again. This was now not a possible case of random luck or a “blind squirrel finding a nut.” It wasn’t a case of a “broken military clock being right once a day.” They just nailed two in a row. Perfect. Flawless.
At that point I started to figure out that Tiger Woods didn’t just rehabilitate his knee in his down time over the last year. Yes, he and Stevie have been working, practicing, drilling, perfecting their high fives and they’re peaking at just the right time for the US OPEN.
I’d witnessed two in a row, but after years of terrible misses I figured they’d miss the next time. On the edge of my chair I watched as Tiger hit the incredible approach to the green on the 18th, Sunday at The Memorial. He stuck it to about 14 inches, sealing a birdie and an amazing victory. Tiger turned to Steve and landed yet another perfect high five.
I freeze framed the last set of high fives and made still images of them below:
Three in a row isn’t luck my friends. The weakest part of Tiger’s game for years hasn’t been his wild driving and missing fairways. It has clearly been his high fives with Steve Williams. I’m proclaiming now that the final piece of the perfect golfer’s game is in place. Tiger’s game is now complete.