Lessons from The Match II: What you can learn from Tiger and Phil

tiger woods hits shot at the match

Just like you, I was like a kid at Christmas on the last Sunday morning.  I popped out of bed, full of the joys of spring, at the prospect of Phil, Tiger, Tom and Peyton live on my television, later in the day.

The hours dragged by until eventually 3 p.m. rolled around. I flipped the channel and to my chagrin, rain everywhere and no golf.  I was all but convinced that Mother Nature had intervened to ruin my afternoon.

In the end, everything worked out.  The weather cleared enough to get the four sports icons onto the course and what transpired was better than I could have imagined.

There were a number of things we could learn from watching them play:

Tiger Woods

Tiger Woods has made many a masterstroke in his illustrious career, but in my opinion, none have been as savvy as the recent adjustments (post back surgery) to his swing technique. 

“Young” Tiger used to drive it a long way thanks to sheer athleticism.  Effectively, he bludgeoned the golf ball off the tee with snapping levers and youthful speed.  

In contrast, Tiger 5.0 has modified his approach and is elegant, fast at the correct time, and very importantly, balanced.  There is a beautiful marriage between his body and the club and it appears to be a two-way street – the club responds to his body and the body in turn responds to the club.

There is a lot to be said for balance, especially with the driver, and Tiger is the personification. There is no rush in transition, the clubhead is released around a fairly level pivot, the speed is in the right place (at the base of the arc and just beyond the ball), and his control is impeccable.

Be like Tiger – swing into balance, every time!

Phil Mickelson

Phil Mickelson is a fascinating case study. Fiercely intelligent with an incredibly enquiring mind.   There is well-researched theory to everything he tries, including his strategy of hitting high, nasty bombs.

It is true, power off the tee can be a separator, and developing speed is a worthy undertaking.  In these efforts, Phil has defied Father Time with his off-course work.  His speed is palpable, but the harsh truth is that a bomb is only effective if it lands somewhere close to its intended target – in war and on the golf course.

Be like Phil – hit bombs, but remember, sometimes the General of the Army forgoes the Heavy Artillery.

Tiger and Phil

On the flip-side is Phil’s otherworldly touch and skill around the greens. In some demanding conditions he hit some chips and pitches that left me salivating. 

To that, I loved the Effects Mics picking up his description of how one shot was going to perform before he hit it. Phil described the trajectory, where the first bounce would occur and how the ball would react and roll thereafter.  He then stepped up and delivered the picture as he had seen it in his mind’s eye.

Along those lines, I have heard Tiger reference a putting lesson he got from his father, Earl. “Pops” would recommend putting to the picture (he visualized in his mind). 

I am pretty confident Tiger rolled the long range putt on the final green to the picture he “saw” beforehand.  And that was good enough to close out The Match.

Be like Tiger and Phil – visualize your shots before you hit them.

Golf.com Contributor

On-course announcer and analyst Mark Immelman is passionate about the game of golf. As a decorated instructor, award-winning NCAA college golf coach, and an accomplished golfer, Mark brings a robust knowledge and vast experience to his role as a television broadcaster and golf instructor. He is currently a Golf Analyst for CBS Sports HQ, and an Analyst and On-course Announcer for CBS Sports and Golf on CBS. He currently also serves as a Studio Analyst and an On-course Announcer for PGA TOUR Live  for PGA TOUR Live.

The older brother to 2008 Masters Champion, Trevor Immelman, Mark grew up in Somerset West, South Africa. After a successful amateur career in South Africa he was offered a golf scholarship to Columbus State University (Columbus , GA). He enjoyed a prolific collegiate tenure highlighted by his four-time All-America selections, two-time Academic All-America awards, and two NCAA Div. II National Championship victories. After graduation, Mark had a short season as a playing professional, but quickly turned his attention to his true passion – golf teaching.

As a golf instructor, Mark believes in cultivating ability and talent by providing comprehensive, holistic golf instruction that is easily understandable and of the highest quality to golfers of all abilities and skill levels. His passionate approach and keen knowledge of the game have led to him being a sought-after mind by leading Professional and Amateur golfers alike. Through his career he has taught and/or consulted to PGA TOUR and European Tour professionals and tournament winners such as: Larry Mize, Loren Roberts, Trevor Immelman, Scott Brown, Patton Kizzire, Louis Oosthuizen and Will Wilcox. He has been recognized as one of “Golf Digest’s Top 20 Instructors Under 40”, Golf Digest’s “Best Teachers in the State of Georgia” and Georgia Trend Magazine’s “Top 40 Under 40 – Georgia’s Best and Brightest”.

As a NCAA College Coach at Columbus State University (since 2001) Mark continues to coach the Columbus State Men’s Golf Team and his program is a perennial contender for Conference and National Titles. He is a two-time NCAA Div. II Atlantic/Southeast Region Coach of the Year, two-time Peachbelt Conference Coach of the Year, and the 2009 NCAA Div. II National Coach of the Year.

In 2019 Mark was selected as Captain and Coach of the (Arnold) Palmer Cup International Team. His team triumphed over the United States Team in the Palmer Cup Matches held at The Alotian Club outside of Little Rock, AR.

Mark’s additional broadcast duties include being a guest analyst on the CBS Sports “First Cut Podcast”. CBS Sports also uses Mark’s unique voice for audio and promotional PGA TOUR advertisements and promotional reads.

He has also served a 6-year tenure as a Play-by-Play Announcer for Sirius/XM PGA TOUR Radio.

Additionally, Mark hosts “On the Mark”, a PGA TOUR Podcast, which to date has been downloaded more than 3 million times in more than 125 countries.

He has also written golf instructional columns and articles for Golf Digest SA, Golf Digest USA and is currently penning instructional pieces for Golf Magazine. As an author, Mark has published two e-Books on golf instruction: “Scandalously SImple – The Easy Way to Accurate Golf Shots” and “Golf is a Game of Recovery”.

You can learn more about at MarkImmelman.com