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Will Tiger Woods or Ranger Rick Show Up at Doral?

March 10th, 2009 · No Comments

Armed with his Hank Haney swing and his growing maturity as a player, Tiger Woods has finished W, W, W, 5 in his last four starts at the Blue Monster. His success at Doral has led many to believe that this week’s WGC CA will signal his return to the top of golf’s kingdom. It’s entirely possible.

If Tiger’s mind, body, and game are back in sync, a W is all but guaranteed. Certainly the experts and the bettors are optimistic as Tiger’s listed at 7/2 at Ladbroke’s. Geoff Ogilvy and Phil Mickelson are next at 14/1.

Still, his performance at the Match Play indicated that his return to dominance could take a while. Tiger insists that he needs to get the rust off and learn once again to get into the flow of a round, which could happen soon enough. Rebuilding his confidence could take a while longer.

In his match with Tim Clark on the driveable par four 15th hole Tiger needed to be the Tiger of old and drive the green. But the Rehab Tiger pushed his tee shot way right into the desert and OB. That miss could have resulted from a temporary loss of confidence. With the pressure off he reloaded and drilled his second drive onto the green.

Throughout 2004 when Tiger was rebuilding his swing with Haney, he lacked confidence. As the season rolled on and he failed to win a stroke play event on tour, the media tortured him about the wisdom of his changes. All the while Tiger insisted that he was “close.” Ranger Rick would soon appear at the course.

At some point the confidence to do on the course what had become second nature on the range came to Tiger. The rest is history as he’s dominated the game ever since.

In 2009 Tiger faces the challenge once again of bringing his range game to the course. In the April issue of Golf Digest, Bob Criscuolo of Brooklyn asked: “Has your golf swing changed because of knee surgery?” Woods replied, “Surprisingly no. I’m now doing all the things I tried to do for a long time but couldn’t.”

Since Tiger does not need to make any swing changes, then he just needs the confidence to bring his A range game to the course. That could happen right away. But, as in 2004, it could take months before his tournament performances match his practices sessions.

Doral is the perfect testing ground. He plays great on the course, there is no cut so we’ll get to see how he does over four rounds, and stroke play is the format used for the upcoming Masters.

So will the real Tiger show up at Doral, or will the imposter known as Ranger Rick take his place? We’ll have our answers soon enough as Tiger makes his return to stroke play.

Tags: Tiger vs. Jack

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