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Is 2013 the year for Tiger?

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With two wins in just four starts on the PGA Tour in 2013, Tiger Woods could hardly have made a better start to a season.

Tiger is in the field this week at the Bay Hill Invitational, where he will be defending his title from last year and also have a chance to win the tournament for the eighth time. But despite his history there, we know it’s the majors that really have Tiger’s attention. He’d gladly trade his two wins and a potential win this week at Bay Hill if it meant he could walk away with a Green Jacket next month for major win No. 15, three short of Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18.

A lot has happened during the past five years for Tiger, which has made his task of winning major titles a lot more difficult. To see if Tiger has overcome these difficulties and is on the path to a major winning season, I’ve taken a look at the statistics in his previous major winning seasons to see if I could find some commonalities. I’m overlooking the years between 2010 and 2012 from a major tournament perspective because of off-course problems and injuries. His 2012 start is an indication that he’s moved past those problems on the golf course.

What I found

In every one of Tiger’s major winning seasons, he has won at least once in the first few months of the season — 1997, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008. The years he didn’t win a major — 1998, 2003, 2004 and 2009 — still saw him win a collective 16 golf tournaments. He also managed eight top-10 finishes and six top-25 finishes during those four years. He wasn’t winning the big ones, but he was coming very close.

Tiger has won twice in the first few months on Tour in 2013, including the recent WGC-Cadillac Championships against a major quality field. He leads the Tour in the most important statistic — scoring average —  with an impressive 68.48. What’s even more interesting is that four out of the last five years where he most recently led in scoring average (2005 to 2009), he won six majors. Despite not winning a major in 2009, he won seven times worldwide and finished T6 in both the Masters and U.S. Open and runner up at the PGA Championship.

Not only has Tiger’s scoring average improved since 2010, but statistically he has actually strengthened his putting. In the Tour’s “Strokes Gained-Putting” statistic, he has gone from 109th in 2010 (0.033 putts gained) to 0.995 in 2013, which ranks sixth on Tour. What this means is he is gaining nearly one shot from the entire field on the putting green every tournament round he plays.

Why will 2013 be any different from the last few seasons?

Despite a few loose shots down the stretch at Torrey Pines and some errant drivers at Doral, Tiger seems to have developed a comfort level with the swing changes he’s instituted with Sean Foley. He also appears to have improved his distance control with his wedges, and his marked improvement in his short game has led to lots of par saves. Like the old days, Tiger is again finding a way to post a low number when not every part of his game firing. These are the traits of a player on top of his game and who is showing a strong mental resolve — important things for every   golfer in contention at major championships.

While it’s hard to predict the weather and course conditions for the major championship venues this year, Tiger is always a threat to win at Augusta National. While he has no history at Merion, the site of this year’s U.S. Open, he finished 20th in the 2002 British Open at Muirfield, the site of this year’s Open Championship, and 39th at Oak Hill, the site of this year’s PGA Championship.

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Troy Vayanos was born and still resides in Brisbane, Australia. He has been a passionate golfer for more than 25 years and loves learning and increasing his knowledge of the golf swing. He lives and breathes golf from his local golf course to the professional tours around the world. His website Hitting It Solid delivers the latest golf instruction that helps you break 100 and beyond. You’ll also learn the 7 critical steps you must know to play better golf today.

2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Troy Vayanos

    Mar 21, 2013 at 7:49 pm

    Thanks Nick,

    Yeah the US Masters is going to be a great contest and i’m looking forward to it beginning.

    I can see Tiger being in the thick of the action come Sunday.

    Cheers

  2. Nick

    Mar 21, 2013 at 7:45 pm

    Awesome Post Man!

    Yes Tiger has been playing a lot more consistent this year and he looks a good chance to add major number 15. Probably his best chance will be will be the US Masters in April, can’t wait until it starts!

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On Spec

On Spec: The Stability putter shaft & putter fitting with Blair Philip

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An interview with Blair Philip the VP of R&D and master putter fitter at BGT (Breakthrough Golf Technology), the maker of the Stability putter shaft.

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Host Michael Williams shines the spotlight on all things Las Vegas including where to stay and where to play (golf, etc.), including The Wynn Course and Las Vegas CC. Also features breaking news about the PGA Tour’s new in-broadcast, real-time gaming features debuting at the CJ Cup at Shadow Creek!

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Opinion & Analysis

Golf 101: How do I putt?

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May seem like the most mindless aspect of the game, but it’s actually the polar opposite. How many times have you seen a new golfer seemingly wonder, “how do I putt?” then stand up to a putt and either pull it back like a 1/2 inch and gun through it or take it back knee-high and hit the brakes at impact?

The point is, new golfers rarely understand the idea of controlling the pace and violence of the impact.

Without getting into arcs, release, etc., let’s just focus on a simple way to stay in your body and hit a 4-footer. How do we do that? Eliminate as many variables for chaos as humanly possible.

How do I putt?

Four checkpoints to, at the very least, keep the ball on the green and somewhere near the hole.

  1. The Grip: Club falls in the lifelines of your palms. I don’t care if it’s ten-finger, traditional, interlock, cross-handed, or anything else. The point is putting the grip down the lifelines eliminates any tricks your fingers can play and just by association secures your lead wrist in a flat position.
  2. Stance: Feet shoulder-width apart, arms hang under your shoulders and eyes are over the inside part of the ball. The ball should be just shy of the middle of your stance, so split the difference between your lead heel and your pants zipper. Simple enough. Watch Tiger, just like that.
  3. Pick your spot: Find a spot 6-12 inches in front of you and focus on rolling the ball over that spot. A) It will get the ball on your intended line B) It will help you begin to understand the harmony of line and speed C) It gets you focused on your intention as opposed to your stroke.
  4. Toe to Toe Shoulder Rocking: Once you are set up, the ball is properly placed, you got your aim point and now….. rock the shoulders. That’s it. You will see the upside-down triangle you have created with the correct setup, on a pendulum rock that triangle, and by default, the back of the lead hand will lead the train and collect the ball hopefully outta the middle of the face. This is the most important thing (for now), the clubhead never gets past your trail toe and passes all the way to your lead foot for the follow thru. Once you get a sense of speed control you can venture outside of the toe to toe reservation.

Yes, this will take some getting used to and mistakes will happen, but once you get your mental image to match up with your body action its a surefire way to instill sound fundamentals into your stroke all while eliminating all the “extra stuff” we do when learning how to putt. You can put your signature on it once you get the hang of it. One miracle at a time.

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