Tiger Woods Is Back (no pun intended)

Jul 18, 2015; St. Andrews, Fife, SCT; Tiger Woods tess off at the 17th during the second round on the third day of the 144th Open Championship at St. Andrews - Old Course. Mandatory Credit: Ian Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

Tiger Woods is in a respectable tie for fifth place after two rounds in the Hero World Challenge, being played in the Bahamas, with a 69 and 68, seven under par. Midway on his back nine today he was tied for the lead. This is the first pro tournament Tiger has played in almost a year. He had his fourth back surgery last spring. It is so difficult to come back like that after surgery, let alone having not played much tournament golf in the past few years. The worst part is such inactivity hurts the mental side of the game.

For the past several years as a swing analyst, I have been quite a critic of Tiger Woods’ decisions on his multiple swing changes and even the swing instructors he has chosen. He had the best swing coach in business–Butch Harmon–but they got crossways and split. Ever since then Tiger’s swing was suspect. But right now I think Tiger’s golf swing is looking pretty good. In recent times he has improved it.

Tiger is going with a noticeably short backswing. I think that is the right thing for him to do. It improves his backswing-downswing plane. It reduces some of the reverse C action he has been troubled with the past many years. He never did that when he was great and young. And the best part is that it drastically reduces all that head dip he had through the hitting area which reverse C causes. You can tell he tries hard to stop that upper-body recoil with its accompanying head dip because that intended correction shows so much when he takes a slow practice swing. He’s trying not to do that.

That is perhaps the biggest modern swing change I notice with Tour pros today. So many of them try to rotate the lower body through impact, thus having little or no reverse C and little or no upper body recoil, which means the head moves backwards.

Ben Hogan was the greater master at that. I believe that was the main reason he was the greatest ball striker of all time. Head dipping is caused mostly from increasing the angle made by the lower back and thighs through the impact area. You can do it with reverse C, but you can do it without reverse C too. Hogan was so good at not doing either. It helped that he was short–five foot eight inches tall. But he also stood tall when he addressed the ball, thus very little angle between his lower back and thighs. Also, Hogan became great when he shortened his backswing. And he said he purposely made that change.

Charley Hoffman had an amazing twelve birdies today for a nine-under par 63 to lead this limited-field tournament of eighteen pros by three strokes at twelve under par. Jordan Spieth and Tommy Fleetwood are tied in second place at nine under.

The best part for The Tiger is that he has no back pain. Good luck Tiger Woods.

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