March 26, 2013

What Does Tiger’s Romance Have To Do With His #1 Ranking?

My March Madness brackets are busted and I don’t have a dog in the hunt anymore.  It must be time to move onto golf season.

Tiger proved over the weekend that he’s got his game back in form by winning at Bay Hill and reclaiming the number one ranking from Rory McIlroy.  According to Yahoo Sports Rory took the weekend off to watch his girlfriend Carol Wozniacki play in the Sony Open tennis tournament.  Of course Tiger came out recently and said he has a new girlfriend, alpine skier Lindsey Vonn.  Based on the romances of the top two golfers in the world I have to ask myself a couple of questions:

  1. Based on the fact that both of these guys have extremely attractive world class athletes as girlfriends, does that add or detract from the golf game?  Having a partner who is in the same competitive mindset certainly could be a positive.  But being “madly in love” with a gorgeous athletic celebrity has the possibility of diluting focus.
  2. Does the sport the girl friend competes in make a difference to a golfers overall game?  Let’s face it, if you’re a young single guy would you rather take the weekend off from golf to watch women’s downhill skiing or women’s tennis.  In fact downhill skiing really doesn’t compete much with the golf calendar while tennis goes head to head with it.  This choice of girlfriend’s sports might be the single reason why Tiger has surpassed Rory as #1.

Unfortunately anyway I look at it, I’m not sure Fitness For Golf has any solution to helping members partner with young attractive competitive athletes to improve your games.  In other words you’re on your own with that one.  On to serious golf stuff now.

But what we can talk about is what saved Tiger out there on the course this weekend…putting.  Tiger was 13 under for the tournament beating Justin Rose by 2 and keeping just ahead of Rickie Fowler until an unfortunate Fowler triple bogey on #16 of the last day dropped him into a tie for third and 5 strokes back.

Woods showed the most important aspect of the game is not off the tee but how you get it in the hole. Tiger struggled all week off the tee with a 75th spot in driving accuracy going into the final round but in the lead.  For the tournament he only hit 53.6% of the fairways and 63.9% of the greens in regulation on a course that measured 7419 yards.  And yet he was 13 strokes under par for the tournament.

Think about that —- Over the course of 72 holes he was only on in regulation in 46 holes.  36 holes he had to get up and down for par and still find 13 other strokes to in the Greens Hit In Regulation.  He averaged 1.6 putts on these holes he hit in regulation.

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Thinking about Tiger’s round shows you the greatest difference in us and in them.  Everyone always talks about how far the pros hit and get all excited about the long drives over 300 yards.  But when almost 50% of these bombs don’t hit the fairway and almost a third of the approach shots to a green do not make it on in regulation, and yet the player still wins the tournament you have to look closer at why.

The big lesson that very few amateurs work on, but can make all the difference in an average handicap player to a low single digit or better handicap player is chipping and putting.  Tiger showed the putting skills by draining a 26 foot putt on the 12th holes after Fowler had drained one right before from further.  But looking at the stats, Tiger missed 36 holes that he has to put his chip shots close enough to make the putt and then he has to execute the putts.  In this tournament Tiger did all that and came home a winner by 2 strokes.

As you look at your practice workouts, and as you Northerners like me begin to thaw out, don’t spend all your time on the driving range.  Tiger missed fairways and greens but still won with 13 under.  That’s a lot of up and downs and one putt greens.

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