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What Tiger should give back to the game

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After Tiger Woods’ nothing-less-than astonishing return to form this year, capped by his recent win at The Tour Championship, it seems nearly everyone is back on the bandwagon. Need proof? Odds makers around the world have already made him the favorite to win next year’s Masters. And if you listen to the pundits tripping over each other to provide each fresh take you’d think this older, wiser, and humbler version of Tiger is not only now primed to do finally break Nicklaus’ major tournament record, but to possibly even be the one to who finally brings peace to the the Middle East, but I digress.

It’s true, Tiger’s done much for golf, likely more than any player of the modern era. In the past, he’s been penned as the games’ savior, bringing more eyeballs on, and players to, the sport than anyone since Palmer, and maybe more. He ushered in the era of the golfer as an uber-athlete, while bringing more attention, and more money to the sport (and the pockets of all his would-be successors and competitors), than any player before him. And he’s done all that just by playing it.

At the same time, though, the game has given Tiger much, arguably much more than any player before him, and so to a degree, I think it’s okay to expect that he owes it much more than any player before him. Sure, he’s given back in ways that go beyond just playing, like what he’s given to many who may never even play the game through his foundation. But it occurred to me after his win the other day, that Tiger now has a unique opportunity to give something different back to the game, and a host of struggling rank and file golfers that have largely supported him through the highs and lows of his career. And maybe, just maybe, this kinder, gentler, humbler Tiger is finally in a place where he’ll consider doing it.

Despite the scourge of slow play, time famine, and the other myriad of reasons cited for a drop in golf participation during the decade Tiger has spent absent from the major winners’ circle, one of the biggest ongoing issues affecting participation often goes unheralded. And this issue not only drives an estimated 25 percent of the players who quit the game from it, it greatly hampers the enjoyment of it for a vast multitude of others who still choose to play. The affliction known as the yips.

Now, if you listened to nearly every one of those same back-on-the-bandwagon pundits a mere year or two ago, they were lining up just as fast to claim how the yips were as much behind Tiger’s absence from competition (and his poor showings when did compete) as was his ailing back. Even the Tiger apologists had begun to come around, resigning themselves to the fact that something was seriously wrong, even while they tip-toed around the actual word like its utterance alone had the power to take him down. But with each topped tee shot, skulled bunker shot, or pitch from a tight lie that he laid the sod over, what were at first whispers rose to a near crescendo. Tiger had the yips. Especially around the greens, but it didn’t stop there, as his decade-long struggle with the big-stick was also being hailed as more mental than anything to do with the umpteen incarnations of his golf swing.

Watch this new Tiger, though, especially these past few months, and while his driver is still suspect, it’s hard to believe all those conversations about the yips were even being had. Contending in numerous events, coming close in two majors, and now winning The Tour Championship, and nearly The FedEx Cup, and even the staunchest Tiger critic would have a hard time not agreeing that he’s back, and not just from a bad back, but from a mental abyss the likes of which it can be argued that few have ever returned to the top of the sport from.

And this is where Tiger can finally, truly give something back. As one of the best to ever pick up a pitching wedge, I think it’s time we were treated to a little bit more than a mere platitudes, a What’s in The Bag, or an analysis of the nuts and bolts of the latest incarnation of his golf swing. It was long considered that Tiger’s iron-clad psyche, his iron will, and his mental toughness were his greatest weapon. In his prime, he was other-worldly, winning often by sheer intimidation. But now that that the myth of his immortality has been shattered, and he’s been revealed as much everyman as he is the superman we once put up on that pedestal, it’d be nice to see him play the part of Toto and pull back the curtain a bit on the struggles of the great and powerful Oz. And give us some real insight on what it exactly took to bring him back from the brink.

Tiger’s former coach Hank Haney (who also battled the yips) once did it, even wrote a whole book about it, something I’m sure it took some pride-swallowing to do. Tiger doing it would be on another level. And while it would be an even bigger act of humility for him to do so, especially when you consider his long-standing disdain for admitting to any kind of weakness, it would mean so much more.

If what we’re really seeing is a kinder, gentler, wiser, humbler Tiger this time around, one whose more appreciative of all he once had, all he still does, and all the game has given him, then maybe just maybe this time he’ll throw a bone to some of the rank and file who love this game, who’d love to keep loving it, and shed some light on the specifics of how he’s managed to leave one of the games’ biggest specters behind. It could help many get more out of the game, and give many more the hope they need to keep playing it. And in the process, Tiger just might give back to the game something he never knew he had the power to: the gift of its enjoyment.

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Mike Dowd is the author of the new novel COMING HOME and the Lessons from the Golf Guru: Wit, Wisdom, Mind-Tricks & Mysticism for Golf and Life series. He has been Head PGA Professional at Oakdale Golf & CC in Oakdale, California since 2001, and is serving his third term on the NCPGA Board of Directors and Chairs the Growth of the Game Committee. Mike has introduced thousands of people to the game and has coached players that have played golf collegiately at the University of Hawaii, San Francisco, U.C. Berkeley, U.C. Davis, University of the Pacific, C.S.U. Sacramento, C.S.U. Stanislaus, C.S.U. Chico, and Missouri Valley State, as men and women on the professional tours. Mike currently lives in Turlock, California with his wife and their two aspiring LPGA stars, where he serves on the Turlock Community Theatre Board, is the past Chairman of the Parks & Recreation Commission and is a member of the Kiwanis Club of Greater Turlock. In his spare time (what's that?) he enjoys playing golf with his girls, writing, music, fishing and following the foibles of the Sacramento Kings, the San Francisco 49ers, the San Francisco Giants, and, of course, the PGA Tour. You can find Mike at mikedowdgolf.com.

21 Comments

21 Comments

  1. bernd

    Oct 9, 2018 at 1:04 am

    1. Tiger owes nothing to the game of golf, he has given as much as he has received, if not moreso if you’re talking net revenues, etc
    2. Poorly written article, terrible transitions from one thought to another. Please, stop writing.
    3. Tiger doesn’t need to be anything to anyone besides his family at this point. If perceived as kinder, humbler, gentler, to the public, does it even matter? Is it even real? And again, he doesn’t owe that to the public. Last thing we need is another athlete pretending to put on a facade.

  2. Aztec

    Oct 8, 2018 at 9:19 pm

    Mike Dowd is the same guy who wrote an article saying amateurs should play at 30 times their average driving distance in order to break 100, 90, etc. (it’s easy to find on this site if you want). So, if you’re average drive is 250 you should be playing 7,500 yd courses to maximize your chances. AND he says this is backed by ‘research’. A lot of people called him out on this – not one response from him to either defend his position of just admit he made a mistake. This should give you an idea how credible he is.

  3. frank cichon

    Oct 8, 2018 at 12:18 pm

    His putting is not close to what it was like 5-6 years ago. I first noticed at Agusta a few years back when he had an eagle putt around 10 feet for either taking the lead or to tie for the lead (back 9 on Sunday) and he missed the put on the low side and the putt would not have hit the back of the hole..maybe it would not have even got to the hole. When Tiger was winning most of his putts hit the back of the cup with speed……too of he come up SHORT & often short on the LOW side…how often did that happen 5-6 years ago.His win was in a short field event (30 in the field , although a strong field) rounds of 65,68,65 FINAL round of 71 (average score for final round was UNDER 70) had a 4 shot lead after the 1st hole and only won by 1 when really only 2 players had a chance to beat him and they posted rounds of 74 & 75. I do not think he had much pressure put on him Sunday or the result may have been different.

  4. dat

    Oct 8, 2018 at 11:06 am

    Pathetic piece.

  5. William Davis

    Oct 8, 2018 at 9:38 am

    Could we not have a rest from Woods for, say, two months. He can then make yet another comeback.

  6. Hawkeye77

    Oct 8, 2018 at 7:45 am

    Seems like the only folks suggesting Tiger needs to “admit” he had the yips are those folks who wrongly claimed that he did in the first place, lol. Now he’s won and all the naysayers have to cling to something. Well written but the premise simply wrong.

  7. JP

    Oct 7, 2018 at 9:07 pm

    Author of this story should be fired.

  8. Kool Aid

    Oct 7, 2018 at 8:52 pm

    I said that when Tiger fell from grace, he should have donated 100 million dollars to 3rd world countries

  9. Duggie Howser

    Oct 7, 2018 at 6:58 pm

    Sounds like an Elizabeth Warren piece.

  10. Johnny Penso

    Oct 7, 2018 at 6:48 pm

    “I would hate to see golf get lost again in that Tiger talk” – Greg Norman

    Quite prophetic.

  11. bj

    Oct 7, 2018 at 6:25 pm

    Worst Ive read on this forum…..Way off base with this. wrong…wrong….wrong

  12. Paul Booij

    Oct 7, 2018 at 12:39 pm

    Tiger owes us nothing. However, it would be nice if he wrote a book about what he went through. I would probably buy it. Just to know about how he changed his swing from where he was a few years ago.

  13. Really?

    Oct 7, 2018 at 11:16 am

    Tiger owes us nothing.

  14. Beau B. Jamin

    Oct 7, 2018 at 10:56 am

    Mike – There is far more factual basis in Big Foot and UFO’s that there ever will be in the so called dreaded golf “yips”. It makes me laugh every time I hear anyone bring this topic up as it is some sort of incurable disease. Where did this goofy old school mythological golf disease actually come from? A scene from Caddyshack perhaps? I honestly don’t know. . . Now if you want to discuss poor performance brought on by a wide variety of things such as : A lack of confidence due to a lack of practice and experience with a given lie, distance, and/or ground conditions; or a lack of confidence due to mental distraction often brought on by paralyzing self consciousness and fear of failure which is more often than not brought on by lack of practice and experience with a given lie or situation, then we might have something to talk about, but “the yips”. . . I don’t know. . .

    • The dude

      Oct 7, 2018 at 9:08 pm

      Here’s what I learned from your post……you don’t know…(really bad post)

      • Bob

        Oct 8, 2018 at 9:23 am

        Here’s what I learned from your post. You’re a troll. . .

  15. Francis Speight

    Oct 7, 2018 at 10:47 am

    He never had the yips he had a bad back, it effects every part of your game.

    • dixiedoc

      Oct 8, 2018 at 10:26 pm

      He still has a bad back and he still has the yips. They’ll come back, you’ll see

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Opinion & Analysis

Golfholics Course Review: Spyglass Hill Golf Course

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In this new course review series, Marko and Mike from Golfholics provide their takes on the golf courses they’ve played around the world. The first episode starts with the famed, yet often overlooked Spyglass Hill. Enjoy the video below, and don’t forget to check out more videos from Golfholics on their YouTube page!

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Redkacheek’s DFS Rundown: 2018 CJ Cup

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Wow, what a crazy start to this season! Not only has the cheat sheet and slack chat plays over at the Fantasy Golf Bag been on complete fire, but the new golf betting model has now hit on two outrights and one FRL in back-to-back weeks! We get a much better field this week so definitely plan to keep this heater going here at the CJ Cup this week. Brooks Koepka will be teeing it up for the first time since being named the 2018 POY, along with guys such as Justin Thomas, Jason Day, Paul Casey, Billy Horschel, and our new favorite Sungjae Im. As you can see, this will be a fairly exciting event for a setup as similar as last week’s tournament.

Let’s go ahead and take a look at this course and see if we can pinpoint some key stats to take us to another Big GPP win or at least a couple good choices for an outright win.

The CJ Cup will be played at the Club at Nine Bridges, a 7,196 yard par-72 golf course in South Korea. Although this may appear like a similar course to TPC Kuala Lumpur last week, this one will play quite significantly tougher. As you can see below, in 2017 there were more bogeys than birdies for the week which doesn’t happen much outside of majors. Justin Thomas won last year’s event after shooting 63 in the first round but failed to break 70 the following three days. JT finished at nine under, which tied Marc Leishman, who coincidentally won this last weekend (2019 Fall Swing narrative). So why so tough if it appears so short? Let’s take a look.

So first off, let’s get this out of the way first. These greens are brutal. No joke; these greens were the single most difficult greens to putt on all of last year. Everything from one-putt percentage to 3-putt avoidance, these ranked the No. 1 most difficult on Tour all year. But here’s the problem: We all know putting is the single most variable stat, so using SG:P will tend to lead to a very disappointing pool of players. For example, coming into last year the players ranked Top 10 in SG:P finished 11-33-47-40-28-64-36-26-71-36, respectively. There is a still a stat that helped fine-tune player pools last year that I will recommend this year: my first key stat to consider this week is 3-putt avoidance.

The next section here I will just briefly touch on the driving accuracy and GIR percentage for this course. It is very average for the PGA Tour…that is really all you need to know. Driving accuracy ranked 48th and GIR percentage ranked 38th in 2017. This course is not difficult tee-to-green, plain and simple. I will certainly add the usual SG:T2G this week along with GIR percentage, but this course will favor most guys this week.

So besides putting, why are these scores so poor considering the appearance of an easy course? Well besides putting on these greens, scrambling here is brutal. Scrambling also ranked No. 1 most difficult here last year but again, this is a stat that is extremely tough to see useful trends. I will, however, encourage you to use SG:ARG to help narrow down your player pool more efficiently.

Remember that this segment of the Fall Swing will not yield strokes-gained data, so we must only utilize the traditional stats the PGA Tour keeps. On top of all the micro-scoring stats mentioned above, let’s take a closer look at this course from a macro level. This will be fairly straightforward when building your model. The par 4s here are extremely difficult, so add SG:P4 Scoring to your research (par 3 scoring is also very difficult but sample sizes are usually too small to include each week). Par 5 scoring was difficult as well but there is a better stat we can use than the P4 scoring mentioned above. The final stat we will be using is simply bogey avoidance. This will do a fantastic job of incorporating T2G, scrambling and putting into our model/research.

Overall this course is really an amazing layout but will pose a difficult task for the players. Just like last week, I encourage you to ease into the season by playing light and also primarily playing GPPs.

With all that out of the way, let’s get into my core plays for this week…

Justin Thomas (DK $11,600)

Justin Thomas finally makes the core writeup. After a mediocre finish last week (5th place), he comes to Nine Bridges as the defending champion. Ironically, he beat out Marc Leishman, last week’s winner, in a playoff last year and I think he is going to be the guy to pay up for over $10k. JT won both CIMB Classic and The CJ Cup last year, and I would be very surprised if he doesn’t leave this leg of the Fall Swing (Asia) without a win. There’s a lot going for him outside of his recent form and course history (if that wasn’t enough), he ranks first in both SG:T2G and SG:APP, second in par 4 scoring, eighth in bogey avoidance and finally, surprisingly, 11th in 3-putt avoidance. If you are building only a few lineups this week, I think JT should be in around two-thirds of them.

Byeong-Hun An (DK $8,700)

Mr. Ben An makes the list again! Byeong-Hun An received a lot of praise from both Jacob and myself on the FGB Podcast last week and he did not disappoint with a 13th place finish, and really a strong chance to win going into the weekend. As part of a common theme you will see here, Ben An is the kind of consistent ball-striker to rely on each and every week. On the PGA Tour in the last 50 rounds, he ranks third along with a strong ranking in bogey avoidance (third) and GIR percentage (also third). He did play this event last year, finishing 11th at 4-under par, and if it weren’t for a final round 73 he had a realistic chance for the win! The price on Ben An is getting a little steep but I think we can still get some value out of it this week.

Kyle Stanley (DK $8,200)

Kyle Stanley should be considered a core play almost every week he is under $9K on DraftKings. One of the most elite ball strikers on Tour, ranking ninth in SG:T2G, 11th in SG:APP, sixth in GIR percentage and 14th in par 4 scoring, he sets up for another solid top 20. Last week Kyle finished 13th in Kuala Lumpur and now comes to Nine Bridges where he ended the tournament in 19th place last year. Kyle tends to be very “mediocre” so upside for a top 3 always seems to come sparingly during the season, but you still cannot ignore his skills at this price.

Charles Howell III (DK $7,700)

Charles Howell III is a lock for me this week. Coming off a strong showing last week (T5) but also an 11th-place finish at this event last year, he grades out as one of the strongest values this week at only $7,700. CH3 hadn’t played on the PGA Tour for over a month before appearing at Kuala Lumpur, causing him to fly well under the radar on his way to a solid top five finish. Always known as a superb ball-striker, Howell actually rates out 16th in bogey avoidance and 10th in 3-putt avoidance, both key stats for this golf course. Additionally, CH3 ranks inside the top 20 of both par 4 scoring and GIR percentage. In a no-cut event on a difficult ARG golf course, count on CH3 to gain enough placement points to pay off this solid price tag.

Ian Poulter (DK $7,600)

Ian Poulter may be extremely sneaky this week. We haven’t seen him since the Ryder Cup and most people that play DFS have severe recency bias. Poulter is a grinder, and considering the winning score should only be around 12-under par with lots of opportunities for bogeys, he should keep the wheels on all four days and have a chance on Sunday. One of the most surprising stats for me in my research on Poulter is that he ranks first in 3-putt avoidance, along with some impressive tee-to-green stats where he ranks inside the top 25 of all of my key stats mentioned above. Why is the 3-putt avoidance stat so important? As I noted in the course preview, these were the single most difficult greens to putt on last year with the worst 3-putt percentage. Outside of the key stats, it does seem like this course fits his eye as he finished 15th here last year. Ian Poulter will be another core play but I think he may come in quite under owned from where he probably should.

Joel Dahmen (DK $6,900)

Chalk Dahmen week is upon us and I am going to bite. Dahmen has been a DFS darling this year and last week was no different. Dahmen ended up finishing 26th which was largely due to a poor final round 71, which dropped him 11 spots. Even with that poor finish he was able to pay off his sub-$7K price tag, which is where we find him again this week. Dahmen ranks top 10 in this field in several key stats, including: SG:T2G, SG:APP, and bogey avoidance. If you need some salary savings but unsure about anyone under $7K, Dahmen should be your first look this week.

Also consider

Brooks Koepka
Jason Day
Marc Leishman
Paul Casey
Ryan Moore
Sungjae Im
Kevin Tway

Good luck this week everyone!

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Mondays Off: Bermuda vs. Bent grass, How to chip when into the grain

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How do you chip into the grain off of Bermuda grass without chunking the ball? Club pro Steve Westphal explains how to best handle the situation. Also, Westphal and Editor Andrew Tursky give advice on how to play in qualifiers or PAT (players assessment test) events, and they tell a few stories of their own.

Check out the full podcast on SoundCloud below, or click here to listen on iTunes!

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