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Wisdom of the old buffalo

Update: February, 12/2017 - 09:00
 
Viet Nam News

By Robert Bicknell

I have been watching the recent Tiger Woods comeback with a jaundiced eye as part of me wants to see him return to professional golf even knowing it will never be at the same level as in his heyday, while the other side of me knows he cannot do it if he continues this path.

I think even the most staunch Tiger supporters are now accepting what I said after his first back surgery – he will not return. Tiger’s body simply cannot handle the stress he puts on it when he swings. There has been too much damage.

At the recent Omega Dubai Desert Classic, Woods withdrew after an opening round 77 citing “back spasms”. Having gone through those, I can attest it’s no fun at all, but better than the nerve pain he suffered from the herniated disk for sure.

There are many reasons why Tiger might not be successful in his comeback and, of course, the main issue is his health. Three back surgeries, knee surgeries is not something you would associate with golf. Sure, if he was in the WWE then occasional body work is practically a given considering the insane risks they take and the constant damage they do to themselves, but golf?

OK, Tiger’s swing was much more dynamic and powerful than those players in the past. He showed you could be a top athlete and swing like one. A clubhead speed of 126 MPH is nothing to sneeze at and certainly cannot be achieved by mere mortals, but look at the damage which resulted.

Look, when you rotate your hips that fast and brace into your forward leg, something’s gonna give and that is usually the knee. Need proof, look at the amount of professional basketball players who have knee problems. They cut on a dime and their shoes grip the floor like Velcro. Professional football players (American) are always down with knee problems and not all from impact. They run like hell and cut left and right. This wears the knee down and opens it up for injury.

Tiger also changed his swing from time to time and the last coach, Sean Foley, really didn’t do Tiger any favours. He had him dropping into a compressed position which will really aggravate the lower back, and combined with Tiger’s speed, was a disaster waiting to happen.

It was like watching a slow-motion train wreck…

So, between the knees and back, Tiger is physically unable to do the things he used to do and that might be one of the biggest roadblocks to his comeback.

We also need to remember that he must be suffering from a lot of doubt right now and with every missed cut, or withdrawal, it simply gets worse, and you know he’ll never admit it. But it shows.

This new re-booted Tiger is NOT the same guy as before.

Just watch him out there… he’s smiling, high-fiving other players and having a good time just smelling the grass. Sure, he’s nowhere near where he needs to be as a player, but it’s almost as if this isn’t a major concern.

It almost feels like he is doing a farewell tour before riding off into the sunset.

If the odds-makers at Paddy Power and Vegas are to believed, there is a good chance Tiger will retire before January 2018 (+280). But I think there IS a way for Tiger to still compete…

To me, if Tiger wants to stay on the Tour and make cuts, he has to change his attitude considerably by taking one club more than usual and swinging easier. Focus on precision, not distance. He’s not a kid any longer.

Besides, the kids out there today hit the ball farther than Tiger did when he was healthy, so trying to keep up with them now is folly. He should try to play smarter, not harder.

Anyone who has lived in Asia for any length of time knows the joke of the “Old buffalo and the young buffalo”. Tiger has the advantage of being in pressure situations before. He knows HOW to win.

So, if Tiger slows down and follows the wisdom of the old buffalo, in the end, he just might be able to “screw them all”. — VNS

 

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