Escape Any Bunker: How To Get Over A High Lip

This might go against your instinct when you’re in a bunker with a high lip, but the last thing you want to do is try to help the ball over the lip. When you try to force it up and over, it almost always comes out lower and slams into the face. Instead, do what I do.
First, try this drill. The biggest difference between hitting out of a normal bunker and one with a high lip is the amount of sand you need to take. To get the ball up quickly, your club should strike a lot more sand, and this drill will help teach you how much. Draw a circle in the bunker about four inches in diameter around your ball. Now get in your address position, playing the ball off your front foot. Before swinging, pick the ball up so all that’s left is the circle. We’ll get back to that, but first, two more things about address: Dig your feet in so you have a solid base, and open the face of your wedge before gripping the club. I know opening the face can freak out some amateurs, but don’t be scared. In a bunker, your wedge is designed to work when it’s open like this. In fact, you should keep the face open throughout the shot.
“DON’T BE SHY: TAKE PLENTY OF SAND TO GET OVER A HIGH LIP.”
Now here’s a key thought: When you swing, think about putting your hands into your left pocket as you come through. You can see me swinging toward my left pocket here. This forces the club to exit low, left and open, and cutting across the ball like this helps get it up quickly.
Back to the goal of the drill. I want you to make the circle disappear. To do that, you’re going to have to hit the sand a few inches behind where the ball would be, and swing through it with some effort. That’s the feeling you want moving through the sand in a high-lip situation. Practice the circle drill with my swing thought of getting into that left pocket, and you’ll make this shot a lot easier than it looks. — with Keely Levins
Stacy Lewis is a 12-time winner on the LPGA Tour, including two majors.
SOURCE:  Golfdigest

Weight transfer in the golf swing

Poor weight transfer (and how we develop swing flaws)

I recall an old joke about a guy who was lost on a country backroad. He spots a local resident and asks for directions to a certain town. The local responds: “You can’t get there from here.”

Whenever I hear that joke, I think about weight transfer in the golf swing. Yeah, a remote connection, I’m sure, but it works for purposes of today’s story. The analogy is this: A student recently swung to the top of the backswing and asked me how to “transfer his weight to the left foot” (he was right handed). I replied, “you can’t get there from here.”

The reason most players do not properly transfer their weight or “turn through,” is simply because they are not in a position to do so. They literally must move away from the target and head for the trail side.

Here are a few examples of why.

Over the top

As the downswing begins, if the arms and club go out, not down, effectively the player is not swinging at the golf ball. If she keeps going from there, she will not hit the ball, or barely top it at best. This player is swinging at something in front of the ball, or outside of it. Shoulders spin open early, arms/hands go out but stay UP, and now the club head will very likely get to the golf ball LATE. But, and here’s the catch, anyone who plays often attempts to correct this swing bottom problem by reversing course!  The body senses the poor sequence and tries the right the ship by quickly backing up. Or casting. So, we get an out-to-in swing direction but a shallow attack angle! What I refer to a “left field from the right foot.’

When you see the flaw from this perspective, it becomes perfectly obvious why. Because, if the player kept going without a mid stream correction, they might top every shot, mo in an effort to get the ball airborne, the player lowers the rear side, raises the front side and swings UP from the outside. So you do bottom out nearer the ball, but you’ve introduced a HOST of other issues. I’m not saying this is a conscious effort in the less than two seconds it takes to swing the club, I’m saying that it develops unconsciously over time. And the more one plays, the more they “perfect” this sequence. In my experience, this is how most, if not all, swing faults begin. Correcting a fault with another fault. It is truly ingenious, really!

Steep Transition

If the swing gets to the top and does begin down inside, unlike above where it begins down outside the line, or over the plane, but the club starts down on a very steep incline, it is headed for a crash;  keep going from there, and you’re likely to stick it straight into the ground or, at the least, hit it straight off the toe. Again, over time, the player senses this, and develops a motion of “backing up; reversing the upper body to flatten the golf club and get it onto a reasonable incline to strike the ball. I see this day in and day out. The inevitable question is: “Why can’t I get through the shot”? Because…you had to reverse the upper body to avoid an even greater disaster..

These are just two examples involving improper weight transfer. But if we see other swing flaws in this light, I think it explains a lot. For example, “raising the handle,” or “standing the club up,” lower body extension (“humping”), holding on through impact, casting, sending hand path far away from the body (disconnection), all these can can almost always be attributed to something that preceded those flaws. That is, they are rarely the root cause, they are the REACTION to another position or motion. They are “save” attempts.

Here’s another way of describing it: Many, in fact most, steep swings result in a shallow attack angle.  Many open club faces at the top of the swing actually hook the ball, many closed faces at the top of the swing hit slices or at least high blocks, and so on. How do I know this? I have stood right next to golfers for almost 40 years and observed it up close and personal on the lesson tee.

If you are serious about long term improvement, real effective change in your game, you will need to work on the fundamentals that will put you in a position from which you do not have torecover, or execute a “fit in” move to survive. Get a good high-definition, slow-motion look at your swing, get your Trackman or Flightscope feedback and take a close look, in terms of what I’m referring to here. It will be eye-opening to say the least.

I would agree that one CAN learn to live with some save moves and achieve a certain level of success, albeit less consistent in my opinion. In fact, when most people hit balls, that is what they are practicing. As always, it’s your call.  Enjoy the journey.

SOURCE:  Golfwrx

The most overlooked hole on the property

Augusta National beefs up No. 5, creates another classic Masters gauntlet

Where’s Herbert Warren Wind when you need him?

It was the Homer of golf writers who in 1958 wrote about the action “down in the Amen Corner where Rae’s Creek intersects the 13th fairway near the tee, then parallels the front end of the green on the short 12th and finally swirls alongside the 11th green.” And just like that, almost off-handedly, this sequence of holes was gifted the last thing it needed to gain renown — a catchy, evocative name. Amen Corner was born.

There is another corner of the course opposite that far reach of Augusta National that is in line for a good nicknaming. Something suggestive of mayhem and exasperation.

It will never happen, mind you, for several reasons. For one, Mr. Wind and his elegant ilk are no longer with us. I certainly can’t come up with anything eternal. For another, holes No. 4-5-6 fall far too early to be a part of the Sunday Masters crescendo. So much happens on that back nine that all else gets kind of washed over.

That’s too bad because, with the recent lengthening of the par-4 5th hole — heretofore the most overlooked hole on the property — this corner just may be the most trying stretch of holes in all the green sausage grinder that is Augusta National.

With the money to reshape the land to any whim, the lords of the Masters decided this year to add another 40 yards to an already toothy fifth. And if that doesn’t suit them, one day they will just buy up a stretch of I-20 and put a tee box in the median.

The result is a now 495-yard par 4 that has grabbed the players’ attention before the first competitive shot is struck.

“Between there and 11, I may even consider No. 5 a more difficult hole now,” Jordan Spieth said. “I would have said 11 is the toughest hole on the course prior to the new No. 5.”

“I’m struggling a little bit right now on how to play the hole, so I’ll have to figure that out over the next couple days.” That’s Jordan Spieth speaking, the guy who rolls out of bed and finishes top-five in this tournament.

Having already let out the par-3 4th hole — to where it can play 240 yards to a roller-coaster green – the guardians of par have created quite a little gauntlet here with the lengthening of No. 5. Throw in the par-3 sixth, with a green that practically requires an escalator to get from one level to the next, and these people have almost succeeded in turning golf into actual, honest work.

Phil Mickelson throws the 450-yard par-4 seventh hole into the mix, too. “I think 4-5-6-7 is a very difficult four‑hole stretch and making a little bit harder I think is a good thing,” he said. “I always like making hard holes harder and I think guys that are playing well will be able to make par (on No. 5) and pick up a quarter or half a stroke on the field that are not able to make par. Ultimately, that’s a good thing.”

During last year’s Masters, Nos. 4-5-6 played as the second-, sixth- and eighth-hardest holes. In contrast, Amen Corner presented both the most difficult (the 505-yard par-4 11th) and least difficult (the 510-yard par-5 13th). No. 12, the famed par 3 over Rae’s Creek was right in the middle, the ninth hardest. So, which stretch is really more deserving a prayerful nickname?

In the redesign of No. 5, they also moved back the complex of large, deep fairway bunkers on the left side, and created a stiffer penalty for finding them.

“I think they are unplayable to get the ball to the green,” Tiger Woods said. “You have to be very lucky and get a situation that you might be able to get to the front edge of the green. But you need to stay out of those bunkers.”

Even a good and true drive leaves no bargain.

“I hit a good drive (Monday), and the course was playing really soft and a bit long. And I hit 5‑iron in,” Tommy Fleetwood said. “A good drive last year – if you could be aggressive with the driver – you might have a wedge or 9‑iron to that middle part of the green. It wasn’t a difficult shot.”

In summarizing the change to No. 5 — a hole due entirely new respect now — two-time Masters champion Ben Crenshaw was succinct, simply calling it “a monster.”

While the knights of the keyboard may fail to come up with a catchy name for this other critical corner of Augusta National, players undoubtedly will come up with a few of their own. They will not be flowery, or even fit for general consumption.

Your golf bag can be a useful training tool

Use This Simple Trick to Hit the Ball With Power Consistently

When it comes to improving your swing with irons and hybrids, you have a useful training tool at the ready: your golf bag. At the range, stand your bag up and address a ball with your backside pressed against the bag. Take the club to the top while keeping your right cheek touching the bag. As you swing down and through impact, smoothly transfer contact from your right cheek to your left. Try to feel as though you’re rotating around your spine instead of moving laterally toward the target.
_____
By remaining in contact with the bag, you’ll maintain your body angles longer on the downswing and have an easier time releasing the club and making solid contact. You’ll also train the pelvis to stay back instead of thrusting forward toward the ball—a common downswing fault known as early extension that leads to weak shots to the right. Think “cheek to cheek”— your ball striking and accuracy will thank you for it.
_____
Keeping your backside in contact with the bag throughout the swing—first with your right cheek, then with your left—lets you maintain critical body angles farther into the swing for more accuracy and consistency.
_____
SOURCE:  Golf.com

As with all short-game shots, crisp contact is the key.

How to hit the deceptive ‘fluffy’ lie chip shot, according to a three-time PGA Tour winner

PGA Tour player Russell Henley explains how to hit the tricky, fluffy chip shot…

You missed the green, but hey, the ball’s sitting up in the rough. Good, right? Maybe. In this situation, it’s not always certain how the ball will come out. As with all short-game shots, crisp contact is the key.

Step 1: Even if you’re short-sided, refrain from opening the face too much. With the ball up, you risk sliding the club right underneath it if you add extra loft. The ball won’t go anywhere. I keep the face square in this situation, or barely opened if I really need more loft to stop it close.

Russell Henley Awkward wedge tip Titleist photo shoot day 1 Montclair Golf Club, Montclair, New Jersey, USA 8/20/18 GF-144 TK1 Credit: Patrick James Miller

Step 2: I swing as if I’m hitting a little draw, with the club moving in-to-out and my hands rolling over slightly through impact. This helps the club remain shallow, which usually results in cleaner contact. My main thought is to get as many grooves on the ball as possible. Think “glide,” not “chop.”

SOURCE:  Golf.com

The reigning Masters champ dished this week as he prepares to defend

Masters 2019: Patrick Reed recalls nerves, lessons learned from Augusta victory last year

But Reed said this week that he did not step on the first tee feeling too confident about how that fateful Sunday (because they’re all fateful Sundays at Augusta) was going to go. He was paired with Rory McIlroy — whom he would go on to crush — but all he was doing early was trying to get off the first tee box.

“I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous,” Reed said on Monday. “… I slept great Saturday night, woke up Sunday and just kind of had this, just, calmness about myself and about the day.  … I felt like I was hitting the ball well. I felt like I was putting well, felt like I was chipping well. Just kind of felt like another day at the golf course.”

Then it flipped on him.

“Then all of a sudden, once I left the putting green by the first tee and I walked to the first tee, when I stepped foot on that first tee, I was like, ‘Oh, man,'” added Reed. “Butterflies were going, I looked at [caddie] Kessler, Kessler looked at me, and Kess goes, ‘Don’t worry, I feel it, too.’ He’s like, ‘Let’s just get off this first tee.’ And when I stood up there, he goes, ‘All right, here’s a 3-wood,’ and I looked at him, I go, ‘We just can’t go right.’ He goes, ‘That’s fine, then hit it left and let’s go.’ I hooked the tee shot a little left, and once I got up to that iron shot, the nerves went away.

“I expected the nerves. I expected the nerves to be there a little longer than what I expected, but I was able to get myself in the right mind frame and the mindset going in that the nerves left me after I got done with the first tee shot, and then it was just go out and play golf and get back to what I was doing earlier in that week.”

It was fascinating to hear such an accomplished player talking about feeling the weight of that moment, the biggest moment of his career. And Reed actually bogeyed the first while McIlroy birdied the second to draw within one at the time. But Reed blitzed him and played the rest of the day in 2 under while McIlroy played the rest of his round in 3 over.

Reed also talked about what he would tell his former non-green jacket-wearing self if he could go back in time about how to play the course and what to do and what not to do.

“I’d start off by telling myself to hit more fairways and to leave the ball below the hole,” said Reed. “You know, it’s one of those places that every time you seem to go there, whether it was the first tee all the way even through last year, you just learn new things about the golf course year in and year out. It’s one of those places that even if you have the perfect game plan, you have to execute your golf shots.

“It’s almost like every tournament you play, but … more penalizing times a hundred. You can get away with missing golf shots at other events, but when you go to Augusta, any little weakness in your game or any missed golf shot you’re going to get penalized for it. I mean, one thing I’d tell myself is you just have to make sure you’re really sharp on every aspect of your game.”

It was a plan that worked in 2018. If it works again, Reed would become the first back-to-back champ since 2001-02 when Tiger Woods did it. If it doesn’t, he’ll be doing the thing he dreads the most.

“My least favorite moment is going to be when I have to return the jacket and I’m not allowed to have it in my closet and wear it around the house and out at places,” said Reed. “It’s definitely going to give me motivation to go out and try to repeat as well as try to win multiple.

“Even the times I’m not actually wearing the green jacket, to be able to see the green jacket sitting in your closet or sitting in an area where you’re always kind of walking by and you’ll see it, it just gives you motivation and kind of picks me up and tells me that you want to keep it around. You want to keep it around as long as you can. The only way you’re going to do that is continue winning at Augusta and continue winning the event so you can have it year in and year out.”

SOURCE:   CBSSports

Proper Set-Up And Alignment Leads To ‘Full Circle’ Swing

Finish Your Swing Left of the Target

Proper Set-Up And Alignment Leads To ‘Full Circle’ Swing

We have all heard it. When getting information about aim and alignment, we often hear to “finish your swing facing your target.” Don’t do it — you will likely hit a shot that will not end up on line. You need to finish your swing facing LEFT of the target.

Look at all the Tour pros out there, they are clearly facing well left of their target at the finish, and that goes all the way back to proper set-up and address. Here’s how to put it all together:

AIM AND ALIGNMENT

First, place your hands on the grip, keeping the clubface square.

Then, aim the square clubface to the target on the line you established from behind the ball. The leading edge of your golf club will be at a right angle to the target line.

Next, align your body (checking feet, thighs, hips, and shoulders) parallel and left of the target line, addressing the golf ball.

If you feel as if you are really left of your target, you will be aligned correctly. Do not align your body to the target…aim your club at the target and align your body left of the target! (For left-handers — right of the target)

Last, with confidence, trust your aim and alignment and make your best effort to create the shot. Even if you do not hit it perfectly, it will likely be on line, heading towards the intended target—a great miss!

COMPLETE YOUR SWING

This is accurate information: Left is “Right” (correct) at address. However, finishing with your belt buckle facing the target line is stopping short of the full completion of the swing circle.

When you finish a good golf swing, your belt buckle will actually be facing LEFT of your target if you have completed the swing circle. The ball will track towards the target on the line you established in your pre-shot routine, but your body will not finish facing the target. If it does, it could result in a shot that leaks to the right of the intended target. Think in terms of the two lines at address that might help you understand this critical piece of information relating to the completion of your golf swing motion. Imagine that the target line is the “ball target” and the parallel line you have lined up your body on is the “body target.” The two lines are parallel at address and remain so during the swing motion, but it is just the golf ball that (hopefully) ends up on the “ball target” line you established. Ideally, you will end up in a balanced finish position, facing the “body target” line you set at address, clearly left of the ball target line. The swing circle motion has been completed, allowing both the operator and the equipment to hit a shot “on line” to the target! Understanding this very thing has been instrumental for improved aim, alignment, and result with my students. See if this perception change alters the directional reality of your golf shots. As my students and I often say about these actions that improve your motion and game, “If you can, you MUST!” LPGA Master Professional/PGA Honorary Director Deb Vangellow 

SOURCE:  Golftipsmag

It has been more than a decade—2006 to be precise—since the Players Championship has been contested in March.

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. — A year ago, Tiger Woods hit 3-iron, 9-iron into the 18th green at TPC Sawgrass during the final round of the Players Championship. Tuesday morning, it was 3-wood, 3-iron.

He wasn’t the only one to notice a significant difference.

On the 450-yard seventh, Billy Horschel used to attack the par 4 with a driver or 3-wood and a wedge. This year, he’s hitting 5-iron into the green.

It has been more than a decade—2006 to be precise—since the Players Championship has been contested in March. Woods’ club choice on the final hole (as well as area resident Horschel’s) perhaps best sums up the biggest difference between the PGA Tour’s flagship event being played later in the spring versus now.

“The ball doesn’t fly as far and the golf course just plays slower,” said Woods, one of just 24 players in the 144-man field this week to have experienced the tournament in each month, and the only one to have won it in both, too. “The golf course plays so much shorter in May than it does in March. That’s probably the biggest difference. We’re going to have to hit more clubs off the tees, have a little bit longer clubs into the greens, but the difference is the greens are much slower and much more receptive.”

Those aren’t the only differences, however.

For one, the appearance of Pete Dye’s masterpiece is vastly different, with a heavy rye overseed giving the 7,189-yard track a lush, dark green look. It’s more than just an aesthetic. There’s a benefit for a venue that demands target golf.

“It sharpens the course,” said 2004 Players winner Adam Scott. “It suits it better. It gives it more definition for us.”

And about that grass, the rough off the fairway is also only about 2½-inches long. Thick, yes, but with the tightness of a hair brush, meaning there should be far fewer hack-it-out-and-hope second shots and more creativity and playability. Translation: Potential for better scoring opportunities.

On the flip side, wayward tee shots are more likely to run off into the pine straw and scrub rather than getting snagged by deep rough.

Around the green, things are even more telling.

“I’m surprised that even though the rough isn’t the same difficulty level because of the type of grass it still plays just as challenging around greens, where it’s super thick,” Jordan Spieth said. “Hitting into greens from this rough is easier but around the greens it plays different. Typically with overseed we don’t see a lot of rough. But It plays closer to bluegrass than bermuda.”

Then there’s the weather.

In May, temperatures routinely reached into the 90s and in some years the greens were burnt to the extent of being nearly unplayable. The course played firm, fast and bouncy.

This week, the forecast is calling for highs in the mid-70s for the first two rounds, with that number dipping into the mid 60s on the weekend.

Wind will also be a factor—breezes out of the north will make the course play that much longer, something that could be particularly impactful on the final two holes, the par-3 17th over water and the 462-yard 18th that features water up the entire left side.

“The 17th and 18th are dicey now,” Spieth said. “When the weather was warm and with less wind [in May], 17 was a pitching wedge. Now it could be an 8-iron. That’s a big difference.”

“In years past [on 17] the wind was behind you off the right, it was an easy club,” added Horschel. “You just had to worry about hitting it too good or too far. Now, you have to hit it the perfect height. The 18th is the same way. Guys used to be able to hit 3-wood and have a short iron in. Now it’s driver and a mid-iron or a 3-wood and a long iron.”

What will it all mean?

“They’re very different to play,” Scott said of the tournament being held in March instead of May. “I mean, it’s hard.”

SOURCE:  Golfworld

About to turn a corner? First, give that dogleg some thought

STRATEGY FOR DOGLEGS

About to turn a corner? First, give that dogleg some thought

You say you can drive it 300 yards, but the last time you did it the hole was downhill, downwind and the ball caromed off the cartpath. You say you shoot in the low 80s, but you haven’t carded an 85 or better without two mulligans and a few generous gimme putts in about four years. When the question about what tees to play is asked, you’re already walking back to the blues or blacks. See where this is going? When it comes to this game, many golfers aren’t exactly honest about their current abilities—especially when assessing their next shot.

A common mental block is how best to play a dogleg hole with real trouble on either side of the fairway, says instructor Sean Foley.

“The ball tails off to the right for most of the golfers I see, so does it make any sense for them to stand on the tee box of a dogleg-left hole and try to curve their drive in that direction? No, but a lot of times they still try,” says Foley, a Golf Digest 50 Best Teacher. “What they should be doing is thinking of how to play the hole to the best of their abilities. In many cases, that means taking a shorter club, one that doesn’t peel off to the right as much, and just getting something out in the fairway.

That’s good advice, says sport psychologist Bob Rotella. Too often a visually intimidating hole, one that looks like it necessitates a specific type of drive, can cause golfers to divert from their strengths. Bad move.

“Mentally, you’ve got to stick with your game. Don’t let the shape of a hole solely dictate your strategy,” he says. “I wouldn’t try to hit a shot I didn’t know or usually play. If a driver doesn’t fit the hole, hit a 3-wood. If a 3-wood doesn’t fit, hit a hybrid, and so on. Do whatever it takes to put the ball in play. But be clear and commit to whatever shot you decide.”

If you can’t curve the ball to match the hole’s shape, another option is to use driver, but play for the “best miss,” says Hall of Fame golfer Tom Watson. If you analyze a hole carefully, that miss should be evident.

“When curving the ball away from the dogleg, the fairway becomes a smaller target,” Watson says. “The golfer must then think about where it’s best to miss the fairway, and this involves a lot of criteria such as length of the rough, where the flagstick is located, etc. For example, shortening the hole by missing in the interior rough sometimes can be a good option when planning your tee shot, but not on Pine Valley’s par-4 sixth, the hole you see here.”

If you’re skilled enough to be able to shape your tee shot with the dogleg, then consider how much of it you want to take on, Watson says. An accurate distance measurement to the part of the fairway you want to hit is key, but so is that whole thing about being honest with yourself.

“Knowing how far you have to carry the ball to clear a dogleg’s interior rough or interior bunker is not usually thought about by most golfers, but it’s critical,” Watson says. “That being said, most golfers don’t know how far they carry the ball with a driver, which is important in deciding the line to take when cutting the corner on a dogleg.”

That’s why it’s best to be generous with your target line, Foley says.

“If it’s a 200-yard carry and your best drives carry about 210 yards, you probably want to take a less risky route,” Foley says. “Better to be farther back in the fairway than trying to recover from being too aggressive with your line. The penalty for not making it on a dogleg is usually pretty severe.”

SOURCE:  Golfdigest

Is the second summer of Tiger Woods’ career over?

Count me as somebody who has learned his lesson about reactionary Tiger Woods takes. In 2015, convinced I could read the writing on the wall and more than a little annoyed at the attention Tiger commanded in a moment of generational change in golf, I declared him “done.” But, okay, I didn’t just declare him done—I did it with a sort of reckless abandon that today almost seems designed to place myself on the thinnest, most precarious limb of the hot take tree.

The take remained fresh for a few years, and then, when Tiger came back last season, contended at the big events, and finally broke through at the Tour Championship, my words were fed back to me, one by one, with a heaping side of crow.

Having crashed to hard ground, I have no interest in climbing back on that limb—far be it from me to repeat the mistake and declare the story of Tiger Woods over and done. Nevertheless, it’s impossible to see Monday’s announcement as anything but somber news:

Yeah, but…he’s also 43, and any injury you’ve been dealing with for “weeks” is not so easily shed. There’s also the fact that athletes always—repeat, always—downplay injuries. Plus, as Steve DiMeglio pointed out at USA Today, his litany of injuries is long, and it’s not even the first time he’s had a neck issue:

“Four procedures to his left knee. Four to his back, the most recent a spinal fusion surgery in April 2017. And there was an assortment of other injuries he had to deal with over the years to his neck, Achilles, elbow, wrist.”

I’m no doctor, but I also can’t help but notice that the neck is in close proximity to the back, and that the two are both traversed by the spine. I’ve even heard discussion that problems with one area of the body, even after being repaired, can throw other parts out of whack. Nor, I’m told, do pain and degeneration typically improve with age.

In short, Tiger’s body has been nickel-and-diming him to death for a few years now, and whatever you call his 2018 run—the second summer, the unexpected final bloom—it’s now time to at least ask the question if that unexpected stretch was our last chance to see Tiger at something vaguely reminiscent of his former glory. True greatness comes and goes almost before we understand it was there, and just as Roger Federer had come down from his transcendent peak before the wider world truly understood that he was the greatest of all-time, so Tiger donned the 2001 green jacket without anyone quite knowing that, by the narrowest definition, his prime had passed.

What follows after the shattering act of sublimity are a series of aftershocks, and the greater the talent, the greater the reverberations. Tiger’s after-shocks, which included three more years of winning multiple majors, would dwarf most careers. But like any echo, they diminished each time, until the 2008 U.S. Open came to a close and he’d won his 14th and (to date) final major. His time of relative greatness hadn’t ended, but by 2014 he was no longer winning titles, and by 2017 the last subterranean rumbles had seemed to cease forever.

Which made 2018 such a miracle—his talent was so extraordinary, his will so strong, that his dormancy couldn’t last, and in fact practically demanded one last airing. It proved that people like me were short-sighted in our fatal proclamations, and in some ways that ultimate victory at East Lake cemented his legend.

And yet, there’s also the larger trends, and there’s also time. Look at this major timeline, and tell me what you see:

To torture this “act of god” thing to death, imagine the green boxes as the thunderous explosions and the yellows as the surrounding lightning, while the white represents calm. If the entire chart represents the storm that is Tiger Woods, does it look like that storm is about to rekindle itself, or does it look like we just saw the last downpour? If you made a bigger chart with his non-major wins, the general idea would be the same—we’re looking at an obvious diminution.

Beyond the metaphorical, the trajectory is backed up by the facts. It seemed anomalous for him to make it through 2018 without any major injury scare after battling his body for years, and the realistic conclusion was that his body was on borrowed time. Now, we see some comeuppance, though it’s unclear yet how severe it might be. In any case, as I found recently,wins begin to get scarce at this age for even the best golfers—would you believe that if Phil Mickelson won another major, he’d be the oldest champion ever?—and with exactly one win in the last five years and change, Tiger doesn’t seem likely to throw his hat in the ring with Phil or Sam Snead or Fred Funk or any of the greatest old man golfers in the sport’s history.

It’s easy to get carried away by a year like 2018, especially when there’s a not-very-well-hidden vested interest on the part of the media-industry complex to see Tiger at his peak again. Everyone wants him there, but wishing won’t make it so. And that’s the thing about a second summer—no matter how warm the sunshine, and no matter how we crave its permanence, winter is just on the other side of our dreams. SOURCE:  Golfdigest