This week Tiger Woods did everything but officially announce that he had struck up a deal with noted swing guru – Sean Foley. In THIS interview on Wednesday when asked about working with Foley and getting more comfortable with some of the concepts of his teaching, Tiger replied, “Yeah, that’s one of the things that I had to understand. I needed to understand the whole concept before I committed to what I was doing. It’s nice when you get rewarded with results, and the shots that I’m hitting now, it’s been a long time since I’ve been able to do that. That’s always a good sign. So yeah, I’ve committed to the concepts, and more than anything I understand what he’s trying to teach. So that’s the biggest thing. And then when you’re out on the golf course playing, it’s understanding how to fix it. That’s the hardest part. I mean, you can do it on the range. You get into a rhythm or whatever it is and hit ball after ball after ball, but out here on the course you hit a couple bad ones, how do you fix it? What are my fixes? And knowing the answer and being confident in the answer, that took a lot of time with Butch and it took some time with Hank, and it’s taken some time with Sean, but not quite as long.“
But by the looks of things after two rounds at the BMW Championship at Cog Hill, the third leg of the PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup Playoff series, maybe it’s gonna take Woods more time than he thinks.
On the very first hole of the opening round on Thursday, Woods would walk off the green 2-over-par, thanks to a sloppy bunker shot, followed by a poorly played chip, and then two putts for a double-bogey six on the opening par4. He took another bogey on the par3 6th, and made the turn at +3. He turned things around with two consecutive birdies on the 10th and 11th, but would card yet another bogey on the par3 12th. A birdie on the par3 14th would move him back to +1 on the round, but a bogey 5 on the finishing par4 18th would put Woods in familiar territory as of late – well behind the rest of the field heading into Friday.
Afterwards he talked about his struggles during that first round. “A lot of times – well, today probably a handful of times I got caught in between the two takeaways of my old swing and the new swing, and I hit some bad shots. When I get into funky lies, I still have to make the commitment to the new swing. I play a little bit more by feel than hands, but still, I’ve still got to make a commitment to what I’m doing.” (Thursday’s post-round interview HERE courtesy of PGATOUR.COM)
Unfortunately for Tiger, Friday would likewise have its’ share of challenges, but even more so on the putting surfaces.
Woods started out with a string of pars in his second round before picking up his first birdie of the day on the par3 14th. Another birdie on the par4 17th would get him to 2-under on the day, but he would once again bogey the par4 18th and make the turn at 1-under 35. He would par the first two holes on his final nine, but would then stumble at the par4 3rd, taking bogey. The troubles weren’t quite over for the round. For the second consecutive day, Tiger would show the depth of his struggles by taking a careless double bogey, this time on the par4 6th. He would get a stroke back with a birdie on his final hole of the round – the par5 9th with a birdie. But a second-round score of 1-over 73 essentially did everything but guarantee that his regular season on the PGA Tour has come to a close after this event, barring a miraculous turn of events with his game this weekend, of course.
In Friday’s post-round interview, Woods said that his ball striking greatly improved from Thursday, although he admitted there were a handful of instances where he still struggled incorporating the new swing. But most of Tiger’s frustrations on Friday were attributed to his putting, where he acknowledged that he just wasn’t adjusting to the slower, bumpier putting surfaces. “I made nothing today. That pretty much sums it up. I hit the ball a hell of a lot better than my score indicates. I had a lot of putts inside 15 feet, and I think I made one there on the last hole, and that was it.”
“I just haven’t made a lot of putts out there this week so far. The guys ahead of us weren’t making anything, missed a couple of short ones, we missed a few short ones in our group today. It was a little tough to putt out there. You’ve got to hit good putts, and more than anything you’ve got to give yourself a lot of looks because you’re not going to make all of them, but the more looks you’ve got, obviously your chances go up.”
Luckily for Tiger, most everyone near the top of the leaderboard heading into Friday would also struggle in their second rounds. Matt Kuchar, the tournament leader after day one with an opening round of 7-under 64, would go backwards on Friday with a 1-over par round of 72. Ryan Moore left the course Thursday feeling good about his game after a solid round of 6-under 65, leaving him only a shot off the lead. But a +3 round of 74 on Friday dropped him out of playoff picture, for now anyway.
One guy not complaining about the conditions of the greens at Cog Hill is Australian Marc Leishman, who after posting a 1-over par round of 72 on Thursday bounced back in stellar fashion on Friday with the low round of the day – 6-under par 65, only one shot back of the lead. “It sort of feels like you’ve got less players to beat because the guys that are complaining, they’ve already let it beat them. I’m just putting on what we’ve been given. Everyone is playing on the same golf course, so that’s the way I’m looking at it.“
The greens at Cog Hill have been flawless in years past, but the long, suffering heatwave that has had much of the nation in its’ grasps this summer has made it extremely difficult for course superintendents all across the country. Despite being one of the more prestigious courses in the Chicago area, Cog Hill certainly wasn’t immune from the challenges that other facilities have likewise faced, with some of the greens on the brink of death and naturally lending itself to slower, more inconsistent putting surfaces. Cog Hill owner, Frank Jemsek, said that he wished the players had better things to say about the conditions of his golf course, but acknowledged “it’s hard to fight the facts.”
But as it pertains to Tiger Woods, who has been struggling to find his putting touch much of the season on even the finest of putting surfaces , the mission has never been more clear heading into what might very well be the final two rounds of competitive play on the PGA Tour this season. “I’m just trying to post good numbers, hit good shots, place the ball accordingly on the correct side of the fairways, correct side of the greens, and go from there.”
“I did it last year on the weekend. Hopefully I can do it again.”
(Excerpts of Tiger Woods’ post-second round interview can be read in its’ entirety, HERE, courtesy of PGATOUR.COM)