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Wedges a weakness for Woods right now
Tiger Woods wolfed down a peanut butter sandwich and sipped on a can of Diet Coke. Then he went to work on the range at Bay Hill.
Wedges, wedges and more wedges.
Sean Foley stepped in early and often, changing Woods’ body position, reminding him of his arm lines, how he wants the club to exit and making sure there’s a slight cup in his lead wrist to shallow the wedges, so he stops digging trenches.
No great wedge player has ever removed great chunks of earth while doing their work.
The great ones brush the grass.
Woods used to, too, but now that he has re-learned how to play golf, feel is the remaining domino to fall.
With the Foley overhaul almost fully in position off the tee — Woods is as good as he ever has been with the driver — he now just needs to find the finesse he once had.
Never was all of this more evident than it was Thursday in the first round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
Woods, with an early tee time that spared him from the vagaries of the winds that blow around here in the afternoons, shot a 3-under-par 69 that left him in a tie for fourth.
And he shot 69 despite hitting precisely one approach shot inside 15 feet all day.
Nick Watney, by contrast, hit three approaches inside eight feet and made them all. He finished the day only one shot ahead of Woods. Both of them trailed Charlie Wi, who had a 66.
Apart from being inaccurate with wedges, putting has also been a problem for Woods.
And that story, too, is told in the statistics.
He and Wi each hit 14 greens in regulation, and while Wi’s approach shots averaged 31 feet, Woods was only a foot further away.
But the difference was that while Wi took 28 putts, Woods needed 32.
“I didn’t really do anything great today,” said Woods.
“I was just solid all day. I drove the ball well, hit my irons decent and putted all right. I had two three-putts, but also made a couple of bombs out there. It was just one of those days where not a lot going on.”
The three-putts bothered him, as they do anyone with their name stitched into their golf bag.
“Two three-putts … (could’ve) shot five under par without hitting it real close,” he said with a shrug.
Woods said the Achilles injury that forced him to pull out of the final round of the Cadillac Championship at Doral was yesterday's news.
“I’m feeling good. I’ve been getting treatment. Everything’s good, no swelling," he said. "If I can just keep it that way, everything will be great.”
It’s not lost on Woods that he never has won a Masters without having won a lead-in tournament.
This represents his last chance.
As far as last chances go, Bay Hill’s a good one. He has won this tournament six times.
“For some reason, it just fits my eye,” he said of Arnold Palmer’s course. “Ever since the US Junior (Amateur) — I don’t know why, it just fits. I feel comfortable coming around here, hitting shots, shaping it.”
Once he dials in the wedges, I get the idea he’ll feel a lot more comfortable.
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