So Tiger is playing in Phoenix. There is a god. It will be good for the tournament, good for golf, good for Tiger.
We wish we could report that Woods is also planning to play the Texas Open in San Antonio in March. He should — and watch the Spurs while he’s there. Also, how about adding Hilton Head in April? Good post-Masters chill op, on a tiny, interesting course. How cool would it be to see Tiger at Colonial in May? The announcement from his website would write itself: “If the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial was good enough for Hogan, gosh darn it, it ought to be good enough for me.”
While we’re at it, let’s pencil Woods in for the John Deere in July. If he likes, he can fly with the guys on the Sunday night charter to St. Andrews. And when was the last time he played in Nevada? Reno, baby, in August: Book it. You know Tiger could revive the Tour stop in Milwaukee, where he played his first event as a pro in 1996, if that ever became a priority for him.
By playing more — how about 24 events in 2015? — Tiger would be helping the game in a way that nobody else could. But he’d be helping his own game too.
The man needs more reps. That is, more tournament reps. Beefing up the schedule could become an important part of Tiger’s stated goal to get back to the game he played as an amateur and a young pro.
In an essay in this issue (page 86), instructor Bill Harmon remembers Woods as an amateur, when he was the ultimate feel player. He didn’t need any computer analyses to fill up his bag. A club earned a place in his bag by what it could do and by how it felt in his hands.
But under Hank Haney, and more so under Sean Foley, we could all see how obsessed and sometimes confused Woods became by his swing mechanics. Over the course of his 18-year Tour career, we have also seen how maddeningly committed he is to playing the same tournaments year after year. Torrey Pines. Doral. Bay Hill. Memorial. Firestone. Yes, he has had unprecedented success. But it’s boring! Playing on courses where he doesn’t know every hump and hollow would give him more of a chance to allow athleticism and instinct to take over. Imagine what that would do for his preparation for the titles he covets most — the four majors.
Athleticism and instinct had a great run for Tiger, back in the day. They were the main ingredients in his winning three consecutive USGA junior titles followed by three consecutive U.S. Amateur championships, all before he turned 21. Six events, six wins, six venues. He rarely played the same shot twice. How cool, for Tiger, playing — and for us, watching. Mix it up, sir. Change is good.