(Jeff Palopoli) With Tiger’s nose-dive this past week at the WGC, how much of this do you think has to do with his parting ways with Hank Haney and/or not being associated with a swing coach right now? Or is it simply just as he says, “not practicing enough, because of spending time with his kids”?
Stefan: I think very little of Tiger’s problems is because of his split with Hank. His head’s just not into it, on the range or on the course. Nobilo put it best the other day when he said Tiger’s mind is in “Hyperspace”. Tiger’s more than able to put his swing together from a technical point of view, but his concentration is off. I’ve backed him as much as anyone this year, but this week’s performance was abysmal. Even the worst player in almost any field any week is able to break par at least once in four tries, and Tiger wasn’t even close.
From a technical point of view, he has to lose that head-dip on the down swing. There may have been a time he could compensate against it and be successful in spite of it, but those days have gone.
Jeff: Well I think the split from Haney may have something to do with it, maybe not much. But his results since the split have been pathetic. He had that one T4 at the US Open, but everything else has been horrible. I’m sure it does have something to do with the lack of practice, which would go hand in hand with the Haney split and him not working with a swing coach really for the first time in his career. But I think it’s a combination of that and that his head is all over the place right now. It makes you wonder if we’ll ever really see the “Old Tiger” again.
Jack: Hmmmm, I don’t put this down to the Haney split. He’s nowhere near where he expected himself to be right now, and he’s understandably frustrated. I think that’s what’s probably getting to him more at the moment, as opposed to going-ons off the field as it were. Seems as though he’s turning up to tournaments at the moment and playing himself out of contention within the first couple of rounds – I mean, that’s enough to send even Tiger over the edge. I’m just hoping that Firestone was a one-off…
Tony: Tiger diagnosed himself after the round Sunday. But he can’t look at himself with someone else’s eyes. He may think he’s got it right and he may be right. But another set of eyes, wether it is a coach, a friend, a player or even a fan could give him something else to work on or focus on.
Tiger’s troubles have little to do with losing Hank IMO. Hank leaving was just a byproduct of all the collapse of Tiger’s house of cards. I am entertained by how Hank depicted their relationship after the fact. I think it was cool of him to do that. But, Hank didn’t do that when TW was at the top of the world, when he was getting a ton of PR, dough and recognition…
Tiger’s level of play will continue to be greatly affected by the divorce, which he still isn’t even speaking about. I know how much my divorce and all the BS involved destroyed my game, and I have nowhere near the talent level or mental toughness TW did/does on the golf course.
Who are your top 4 picks for the PGA Championship and why? Also, throw in a dark horse for the heck of it if you want.
Stefan: Rory – Maybe it’s hopefulness, but I feel like this is the time a young gun will take a major. Rory’s been playing well, and I think Whistling Straits will remind him of golf in his homeland.
O’Hair – He’s trending up, with six Top-12 finishes in his last eight tournaments. A beautiful, simple swing that should hold up in rough conditions.
Kooch (Matt Kuchar) – He’s also playing well, with four Top-10s in his last six tries.
Bo Van Pelt – Having the best year that nobody’s talking about, with six Top-10s. Great, pure ballstriker.
Jeff: 1. Steve Stricker: Although he hasn’t played well in the majors this year, I like how his game is starting to round back in to form. Plus I’m hoping being the hometown boy, he’ll carry some momentum there.
2. Luke Donald: #1 in scrambling, and has a sick sand game to go along with it. With all of those bunkers at Whistling Straits, I think that trait will come in handy, as missing bunkers there doesn’t seem like it’s easy to do.
3. Retief Goosen: Is tied with Matt Kuchar for the most top 10s on Tour (8) this year and despite a poor 3rd round last week at the WGC, he had a great Sunday bounceback with a 65. I like him a lot this week.
4. Ernie Els: Even though he looked horrible at the British and made a lot of people (including myself) look bad for picking him, I think he’ll do well this week. He’ll be looking to bounce back after a horrible closing round to take himself completely out of contention last week at the WGC where he closed with a 76, after a fantastic Saturday 64. In 2004 when the PGA was played at Whistling Straits Els finish T4 where he shot a final round 73 to miss the playoff by 1 stroke.
Dark horse: Matt Kuchar – 8 top 10s this year, and before Sunday’s 73 at the WGC, he had a streak of 10 straight rounds in the 60’s
Jack: 1.) Steve Stricker: Stricks being the hometown boy and all, I just can’t not see him contending this week. He’s too good not to win a Major, and I think this will be the week that he finally steps up to the plate.
2.) Padraig Harrington: Pad’s been playing pretty well as of late, and Whistling Straits should suit him well. Won’t have any problems closing out on a Sunday should he find himself in contention.
3.) Rory McIlroy: Why not? Like Harrington, this links setup will play right into the hands of McIlroy. Forget the fact that he had one bad round at St Andrews this year: we all know this guy is for real and I expect him to snag a Major sooner rather than later.
Tony: As much as I want to pick Stricker, I’m not sure he can win a major. I’d love to see that happen.