Tiger Woods, ahead of the final round of the PNC Championship, took one ball with his right hand, flipped it forward, and it near-instantly checked on the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club practice green a yard or so ahead of him. A few seconds later, he did it a second time.
Before we go any further, please note that Sunday’s most important event is still Woods playing golf just days short of a 10-month anniversary of a car crash that left him, at one point, facing the possibility of right leg amputation, shooting a ridiculous 15-under 57 with his 12-year-old son, Charlie, at his side in the parent-child scramble and damn near winning the event. And that the following discussion of this Tiger Twist is maybe trivial. OK, let’s continue.
“I’ve seen Tiger do some amazing things, as we all have, but I’ve never seen him do what he just did. I’ve never seen anybody do what he just did. I don’t even know how he did it. I mean, I’ve heard of the ball spin too much, but he’s throwing these balls out on the green and snap ’em back — I’ve never seen anybody do that.”
By now, you, Tiger Woods fan, have seen most every important Tiger Woods shot, red shirt and fist-pump there is. And Brandel Chamblee has seen most of them all, too, if not more. So when the former Tour pro and longtime analyst notes that even he’s never seen Woods, or any golfer, do the Twist, even if he’s saying so a little tongue in cheek on Sunday on Golf Channel, you turn your head. At least a little.
So on Monday, a day after Tiger turned back the clock and Charlie maybe gave us a look into the future, I went back and watched it again. I slowed it down to 1/16 speed even. Don’t say I don’t try. Anyway, here’s what I found.
Pinching the ball between his thumb and his index and middle fingers, Woods twisted his right elbow and wrist upward as he flicked both forward to create the backspin on the ball. (Think of the motion used for a curveball in baseball.) Notably, too, he held his hand palm up for a second afterward. The first ball went no more than a yard, bounced, rolled maybe an inch and stopped. The second ball rolled less than the first.
All the while, Woods smiled, Stewart Cink’s caddie looked on and Charlie putted a few feet away. (The video is below.)
“Is he pretty proud of himself right there — like, check this out?” analyst and former player John Cook said.
“I would be if I could do that,” Chamblee said.
“We are officially easily amused,” announcer Rich Lerner said.
Indeed. The Twist may be rare. But it’s also not unattainable. While Woods said he’ll need to hit thousands of balls to get back to Tour level, you can do his move with at least half that number. Or less. For Chamblee, it brought to mind another flick trick he once saw.
“We’re standing on the tee waiting for the group in front of us, and he takes a tee and he’s got it in his hand and he throws it at the ground and it sticks in the ground,” he said. And he picks it up and did it again. I was like, give me that tee. Is that a weighted tee or something? So I tried it and I couldn’t do it.
“But I spent the next three, four months getting to where I could do it. The key, you got to snap it just right, and you got to release it just right. I was so proud of that move. You know, I’d do it every now and again and somebody would go, well, how do you do that? I’m like I’m not telling you.
“But that pales in comparison to throwing a golf ball out onto the green and getting it to spin back.”