Tiger Woods' swing shift in line with shift in U.S. Open setup
Maybe Tiger Woods is staying in step with the USGA. The lads from Golf House have decreed that this U.S. Open will step out of character and be something players have never experienced before at this championship. So Woods did similarly at his pre-tournament press conference, offering new jargon.
Forget the "process" he was committed to. Now, it's a "shift."
At least seven times in a half-hour, the 14-time major-winner used the word "shift" to describe the curious state of his game, how he had gone from missing the cut at TPC Scottsdale to walking off the course at Torrey Pines to playing decently for 54 holes at the Masters to falling back at TPC Sawgrass to shooting 85 at Muirfield Village.
"Short-term suffering for long-term gain," Woods said of his commitment to swing changes and what followed were many explanations that involved his new pet word.
It's a "shift in a good way," he said.
Then he talked of making the "shift under game-time situations."
He even said at the Memorial Tournament that he made "a baseline shift," and you half-expected him to talk of his designs on playing Chambers Bay with an up-fake on LeBron James or even a fade-away over Stephen Curry.
When asked to offer to the layman what his intentions were with all these swing changes -- after all, some of the old swings seemed to serve him well, given his 79 career wins -- Woods just shook his head. We wouldn't understand, apparently.
"I'm not going to try to explain it, because it's a lot," he said. "So, we'll leave it at that."
Woods did suggest to skeptics who have questioned his focus and his passion for the game that he wouldn't be doing all this work with new swing coach Chris Como if he wasn't devoted. He also indicated a willingness to keep an open mind on Chambers Bay, which clearly has players either nervous, apprehensive, concerned, or defeated -- take your pick.
"Different," is a word Woods used, though his first assessment was interesting. He was "amazed at how different" the course played in the afternoon than the morning, because it got faster and firmer. There was also a slight smile on his face when he said "on some holes you can be off by 100 yards" and still be OK, and that clearly pleased him because he might have driven it as badly as ever in the recent debacle at Muirfield Village.
Woods seemed confident that he had a feel for Chambers Bay, voicing his thanks to USGA Executive Director Mike Davis' statement a few weeks ago that players needed to see the course as many times in advance as possible. It will be interesting, Woods said, to see how players like Jim Furyk -- who saw Chambers Bay for the first time Monday -- will fare this week.
All in all, Woods' 19th U.S. Open is shaping up to be one of great intrigue -- his shift in swing philosophy intersecting with the USGA's shift in course setup.
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