Golf is a bottom-line business, but the hard numbers tell a different story than the one Tiger Woods was telling at Isleworth on Sunday after playing four rounds at the Hero World Challenge.
Clearly he was not pleased with finishing so far behind winner Jordan Spieth, by tying for last place in his annual charity tournament, by having so many woes around the greens.
Shooting even par for four days is not so bad unless it is compared to Spieth, who shot 26 under par to easily capture his third professional title.
But Woods had his own victory of sorts.
He would never talk in such terms, never view it with any kind of exuberance. But after a year lost to injury and ineffectiveness, Woods could look ahead to 2015 with optimism, view the big picture without getting caught up in where he finished this week.
“First things first: playing tournament golf without being in pain, without having to call my physio every day or having to put out fires with my body, swing-wise,” Woods said “It was nice to be able to hit the ball the way I did this week.”
His final-round 72 at Isleworth included an ugly triple-bogey 8 at the 13th hole where Woods again struggled with a couple of chunked chip shots to bring his total for the week to nine.
Throw in a ball left in a bunker and another bladed chip shot, and there’s 11 wasted shots and an area of concern going forward.
It was such a shocking development — despite Woods’ lack of play and practice — that a Twitter account (@DidTigerChunk) popped up over the weekend to make light of the development.
Woods put it on being in the middle of swing thoughts under new instructor Chris Como, an issue that he will also have to confront in his long game — even though it seemed to only crop up during a first-round 77.
“If I put my backswing in the same position that I used to have it in and then make this new release, I’m going to hit it fat every time,” he said. “I’ve got to get things in a different order. From about 40 yards out it’s pretty solid. I hit those shots really well. Anything inside of that, I have to get used to.
“It’s a different release pattern, and so my chipping is off, putting is just a touch off,” he said. “I started to figure something out today, which was nice. I’ve got to get used to a different release pattern, different release point. That said, my short game is off because of it, but my long game is better. All it is is practice. I just need to work.”
Can Woods overcome those chipping problems with work or is there something more in play?
Champions Tour player and long-time Woods friend John Cook watched him all four days at Isleworth and said without hesitation “he will fix that. No question. I’m not worried about that.”
Cook, an Isleworth member, hit balls with Woods on Monday and Tuesday and was pleased with what he saw.
“Watching him on the range is absolutely great,” said Cook, who noted Woods’ ability to shape shots with a higher trajector. “That’s step one and I love it. Now step two is doing it out there (on the course) every single time, trusting that and not reverting back. I like it. But he’s got to get into a golf rhythm. He hadn’t even walked 18 holes until Wednesday.
“There’s walking and waiting and wondering what your body is going to do and how it’s going to react. That’s a whole different animal than hitting balls and jumping in your cart and zipping down the fairway. I just like what I see. He’s lean, he’s flexible. He’s got power.”
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