No red shirt for Tiger this week as he missed the cut at the Waste Management Phoenix Open

Tiger Woods 2015 PGA Tour debut at the Waste Management Phoenix Open was somewhat less than spectacular. While the leaders were posting double-digit under-par rounds, Woods posted 73-82 to finish near the bottom of the field at TPC Scottsdale. His second-round 11-over-par was one of the worst competitive rounds of his career and put him far below the Friday cut line.

When we last saw the former No. 1 ranked golfer, he was duffing chip-shots like a 20-handicapper in the Hero World Challenge, on a golf course he knew very well. Seven weeks later nothing has changed, Woods still cannot chip and he is back to hitting his driver in some very unsavory places.

Golf pundits are jumping on the bandwagon by the bunches and extolling his most recent performance as proof that the king is dead.

I am still not convinced and here is why.

Paul Azinger went on ESPN on Saturday and gave some very compelling reasons why Woods may still have some life left in his creaky knees and surgically repaired back.

Azinger said in his taped interview that Woods’ chipping woes could be fixed in a matter of minutes. That is true.

He does not have the chipping yips, he is simply out of competitive practice. He says he is practicing his short game at home, but like Azinger, I think Woods may be less than truthful on this issue.

Woods is simply not confident that his chipping ability is as precise as it needs to be to compete on PGA Tour caliber championship golf courses just yet. More competitive reps will correct that issue.

Azinger also makes the point that Woods does not have the “killer instinct” that his father, Earl, instilled in him as a junior golfer.

It is very obvious to long-time Tiger watchers that Woods goes out of his way to chat up fellow competitors and is even somewhat more outgoing with the media. That was never the case with the 1997-2008 version of Tiger Woods.

Tiger seems to be smiling more these days.

Woods personal life woes left a mark deep down and he has become an older and possibly wiser person socially.

As a child prodigy, he was trained from a very early age to beat the golf course and the other golfers. He was not trained to make friends and mingle at cocktail parties. Earl made Tiger a warrior, take no prisoners and never retreat.

Divorce, children of his own and a messy scandel, including rehabilitation made him face his lack of social skills and reassess.

There is one very telling statistic from the Waste Management Phoenix Open that illustrates that Woods still has the skill set to compete at the highest level. His swing speed was measured at 121.46 mph. That is an increase of nearly six miles an hour from 2014 and the highest since he won his last major championship at the 2008 U.S. Open. He has regained length from the tee and is hitting it farther off the fairway than ever.

Not to worry, that can be fixed. He shed bulk in his off-season workouts, gained core speed and is obviously more flexible.

That Bio-Mechanic stuff from Chris Como may have some real merit.

Tiger’s mental dedication and toughness has waned, but he may actually be more focused. Let’s compare that aspect of his persona to the man he is chasing, Jack Nicklaus. Nicklaus was famous for possessing the best concentration in the 30 seconds before he hit each shot, but congenial and approachable off the course.

You do not need to be focused on golf 24/7 to be a world-class player. A 30-40 second span prior to each shot is more than sufficient to play championship golf.

Woods learned a hard lesson that one must leave the hard-ass mental attitude at the golf course. He is not as driven off the golf course and perhaps that is a good thing.

It is obvious he is not practicing as much as in the past and is focused on the big picture not each tiny piece.

The old Tiger ground it out on every shot and worked for every cut. He has not done that since coming back from his divorce and scandel. He has learned to pick his spots and not sweat the details.

It appears that he has learned to compartmentalize his life and is now solely focused on winning major championships. Missing the cut at the Phoenix Open is not a big problem in the overall plan for the season.

He does not need a Waste Mangement Phoenix Open Trophy, he just needs five more majors.

Woods is now a 39-year-old man with growing children, plenty of money in the bank and personal scars that are still healing. His golf course problems can be fixed in a very short time.

He will be in the field next week for the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines, which he has won on seven separate occasions. He also won his last major championship, the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines.

Woods will have three more starts in Florida prior to the Masters and if needed can slip in one of the Texas events.

We will have a much better feeling for the state of Tiger Woods’ golf game after the Arnold Palmer Invitational in March. Until then it is all window dressing and part of the process leading up to the real meat of the season April-September.



Golf will be competed in the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro

The Back 9 Report discussed the upcoming issue of the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) full-disclosure of drug testing results versus the PGA Tour’s non-disclosure policy.

The PGA Tour is owned by the tour members and has maintained a strict policy of not disclosing disciplinary actions taken against fellow tour players. Golf prides itself on being a gentlemen’s game and assessing each individual’s own penalties.

That, however, does not stop the tour from hiring professional rules officials to assure the conduct on the golf course is fair to all contestants. Penalties are blown up on television screens and recorded in super slow motion for every golf fan and announcer to dissect.

The tour takes a completely different tack in its durg enforcement policy. Random drug tests are required from every player and are unannounced, but that is the only similarity with the IOC’s aggressive and fully public drug testing policy.

The IOC uses an independent third-party testing agency, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), to conduct its testing and all results are released for public consumption.

The IOC tests early and often. Olympic competitors are even required to provide a daily schedule to WADA and testing can be requested at any time. Many athletes, who have used illegal substances, are exposed before they ever reach the Olympic site.

Ron Green Jr. of Global Golf Post weighed in with his take on this issue and advised that he does not see the PGA Tour policy changing any time soon.

The IOC drug testing policies will only affect a handful of Olympic golf hopefuls, but it may expose more serious problems in the golf world than has previously been revealed.

The full discussion can be heard on the January 27, 2015 Back 9 Report and can be downloaded at:


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