Does Tiger have the yips?
By Peter Santo
Tiger Woods’ return to the PGA Tour last week was supposed to be glorious, it was supposed to be a new Tiger with an old swing under Chris Como. Instead, his return at the Waste Management Phoenix Open was anything but glorious.
While his long game showed a slight improvement over his 2014 form, his play around the greens constantly let him down. Tiger struggled mightily with his chipping and pitching, chunking some shots short of the green and blading others straight across the green.
This was something we had never seen before from Tiger Woods, a guy who during his prime could get up and down from seemingly anywhere. A guy who could turn a bogey into a birdie with a miraculous chip.
When I think of Tiger Woods’ best shots, the two that immediately come to mind are both short game shots.
The first is his chip from behind the 16th green at Augusta National in the final round of the 2005 Masters. Tiger turned what could have been a bogey into a remarkable birdie and went on to win the green jacket.
The other is his amazing flop shot in the 2013 Memorial. This shot seemed so impossible, it was almost certain that he would either chunk it short of the green or hit it too far and hopelessly watch the ball roll into the water.
It was after seeing this shot that I, as well as many others, proclaimed Tiger Woods to be back. However, after winning 5 times in 2013 and becoming number one in the world again, Woods has again slipped down the rankings and is currently ranked 56th in the world.
While we have seen Woods struggle before, it has never been quite this bad. On Friday in Phoenix he posted the worst score of his entire professional career on his way to finishing dead last and missing the cut by 12 shots.
Most golf professionals are divided as to why Tiger is struggling so much around the greens. Some say it is physical and that his technique is simply off, while others suggest that the issue is psychological and that it could be the dreaded yips.
There is no denying that there are technical flaws in Tiger’s chipping. He is approaching the ball at a much steeper angle of attack and using much less wrist hinge than he used to. This is leading to inconsistent contact.
While this is a big flaw that might be the sole cause of his woes around the greens, I believe that Tiger does have the yips and that this is more of a psychological issue.
For a guy who has played as much golf as Tiger has, who has won as much as Tiger has, it is hard to believe that he couldn’t iron out any technical flaws with a little additional practice.
According to Woods and new swing coach Chris Como, Woods spent hours and hours in the months between the Hero World Challenge and the Waste Management Phoenix Open working on his chipping.
This tells me that Wood’s issues are much more than simply physical. I believe that Tiger is finally feeling the pressure of Jack’s record of 18 majors. He is starting to realize that time is running out and that he might not eclipse Jack’s mark. It has finally hit him that he may not fulfill the destiny that was set for him ever since he was a toddler.
For years he had been immune to the pressure, he didn’t seem human, he was the greatest player the game of golf had ever seen. Tiger Woods is now human, and humans feel pressure. The pressure is catching up to Tiger Woods.