Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Woods' Short Game Long on Staggering

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Woods' Short Game Long on Staggering

Article excerpt

Through all his many missteps and disingenuous news conferences, after all the scandalous dalliances that ruined his marriage, crumbled his very lucrative sponsorship empire and took a divot out of his public acceptance, Tiger Woods managed to do something on the golf course last week that many thought not possible.

He managed to generate sympathy.

Not much, mind you. But enough to make any golfer who has ever suffered from a paralyzing case of the yips to feel just a tiny bit bad for Woods and make it difficult to watch his mystifying fall from golf's highest pedestal.

Anybody who watched the Phoenix Open -- or any of the countless highlights from his first two official rounds of this year -- saw the former No. 1 player in the world perform so remarkably bad that analysts were stumbling all over their words trying to explain what they were witnessing.

And it was happening with one of the simplest aspects of the game: Pitching and chipping the ball from perfectly groomed greenside areas. It wasn't just one or two poor shots. It was a series of embarrassing ones -- chunk one, blade the next. Chunk another, blade another. Just like a double-digit handicap.

It was like watching Michael Jordan shoot air balls, Mario Lemieux fan on wrist shots, Peyton Manning throw balls into the turf.

"He uses the excuse of rust and I don't know if I can buy that," said ESPN analyst Paul Azinger, a former major champion and Ryder Cup captain. "When Tiger says rust to me, it's a signal he doesn't know what the problem is. I feel he's as confused as he's ever been in his career."

Brandel Chamblee, an analyst for the Golf Channel, said Woods has worked with so many different swing coaches -- his latest, Chris Como, is No. 4 -- that his once-artistic swing "is now like Frankenstein."

Forget about catching Jack Nicklaus' record of 18 major championships. …

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