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.

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