Play, Tiger, play

Back when Tiger Woods was Tiger Woods, he could get away with playing a limited schedule.

But he isn’t the Tiger we once all knew. He’s now struggling Tiger. The last tee shot we saw from him missed a fairway wider than the Arizona desert. And that was with a 3-wood.

Considering Woods played only 19 holes at Match Play, it was reasonable to expect that he would deviate from his rigid schedule and enter this week’s Honda Classic. The tournament is down the road from where he lives in Florida. It seemed like a good opportunity for him to try to find his game.

But no. Woods’ agent, Mark Steinberg, said he wouldn’t be playing because he had previous commitments. Not sure what they would be, but I’m guessing it probably doesn’t involve shooting a commercial since Woods doesn’t do that anymore.

Whatever the reason, it is difficult to think Woods will be able to reverse this skid simply by hitting balls at the range. Thus far, Woods has played in only two full tournaments in 2011, plus his one-and-done in Match Play.

Woods will play in the Cadillac Championship in Doral next week and then Arnie’s tournament at Bay Hill at the end of March. That means he will have played only four tournaments (not including Match Play) going into the Masters.

That’s not enough. He needs to be testing that new swing under pressure. More reps in game situations are a must.

My old friend and Deerfield native, Hank Haney, agrees. In an interview with Steve Elling with cbssportsline, Tiger’s former swing coach said:

“I get confused when I listen to everything, because everything seems contradictory.  He says he needs more reps, but he doesn’t play any more? John Cook said he doesn’t really need to hit a lot of balls anymore, he just needs to play. But I thought he just needed more reps? More reps, but you don’t need to practice? What is it?”

The rules also have changed for Woods on the course. He can’t simply show up anymore and expect the swing to be there.

Play, Tiger, play. It might be your only way out of this mess.

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