- Last Updated: 3:46 AM, May 9, 2012
- Posted: 2:12 AM, May 9, 2012
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- If you’re looking for the TPC at Sawgrass to be the elixir for Tiger Woods’ struggling game at this week’s Players Championship, you would be advised to look elsewhere.
Woods, whose last two events featured his career-worst finish at the Masters (a tie for 40th) and a missed cut last week at the Wells Fargo Championship, appears to be allergic to Sawgrass.
Yes, Woods does have a win at the famed Stadium Course in 2001 and was a runner-up in 2000, but he was playing such good golf back then he could have won tournaments if they were played on the moon or the FDR Drive.
If Woods’ last two starts here are any indication, simply playing all four rounds could be considered an achievement.
When Woods was last at The Players Championship, he managed to play only nine holes before limping off the ninth with his left Achilles and knee ailing him last year. In 2010, Woods was forced to withdraw in the middle of his final round with a neck injury.
“It’s either I’ve done really well or I haven’t [at Sawgrass],’’ Woods said Tuesday. “I think that’s the nature of this golf course, though. You can’t fake it on this golf course. When you’re off on this golf course you’re going to get penalized pretty severely, but when you’re on, this golf course seems pretty easy.’’
Therein lies the problem with Woods, though. Based on the results that followed his win at Bay Hill in March, nothing has looked easy for him.
Everyone has a theory.
“The real bottom line is for me, he just doesn’t have the self belief, the self confidence that he obviously had, the Tiger of old, simple as that,’’ CBS and Golf Channel analyst Nick Faldo said Tuesday.
“I always find it interesting since [Faldo] is not in my head,’’ Woods said sarcastically. “[He] must have some kind of superpower I don’t know about.’’
Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee Tuesday suggested Woods replace his current swing coach, Sean Foley, with his former coach, Butch Harmon, with whom he had a bad falling out and who also is Phil Mickelson’s coach.
“Simply, he needs to fire Sean and call Butch,’’ Chamblee said. “I know he’ll never do that, because he’s letting his ego get in the way of common sense. He wants to prove to people he’s right. He would rather prove to people he’s right than be right. He’s going to ride this thing as long as he can, and it’s just sad to see.’’
Woods’ response to Chamblee’s suggestion: “Well, I can understand that everyone has an opinion and he’s entitled to his, but he’s no longer playing anymore, so … so be it.’’
Woods, who appeared to be in an upbeat mood, did his best to calm the hysterical analysis about his game.
“Guys, I’ve done this before,’’ he said. “I’ve been through this, went through those periods where I wasn’t quite where I wanted to be. I had some pretty good runs after that, and this is no different.’’
Still, the million dollar question remains: What has happened to the Woods who won Bay Hill and seemed to announce his return to winning?
“Everyone including myself, when he won at Bay Hill, thought, ‘Wow, he’s back,’ ’’ NBC analyst Johnny Miller said Tuesday. “And all of a sudden, he basically succumbed to the pressure of the Masters and I think that really affected him. I think that was a shock to him that he went from the top of his game to just like, ‘What the heck is going on?’
“It really made him very human. That was very difficult for him psychologically, I think. The Masters really hurt him, especially after you saw what he did at Bay Hill.’’
Said Woods: “It felt good what I had done at Bay Hill, there’s no doubt. I had been creeping up towards that. Unfortunately the last two tournaments I’ve played in weren’t that great. So, no big deal. We’ll just continue working and try and put it together this week.’’
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