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Tiger Will Own 2011

Aug. 27, 2010     By     Comments (32)

He may not win in 2010, but watch out in 2011 as Tiger will come roaring back.

Thrash TalkI'm glad to hear that it's "okay to root for Tiger Woods again" because, if nothing else, it signals a return to stories about Tiger being about golf and not about his marriage, his kids, his infidelity, his temper tantrums on the course, and a whole bunch of other stuff that I don't really care about.

We recently asked people in the forum to predict Tiger's 2011 season, and as I write this 25% of people think Tiger will continue his major-less streak in 2011. 43% think he'll win a lone major, and 23% think he'll win two or more. In regular PGA Tour events, only 9% think he'll go winless, while 40% think he'll win one to three and another 25% think he'll win four or more.

My votes? I picked two majors and 4-6 regular PGA Tour wins, and here's why. In 2011, Tiger Woods will have the emotional wreckage of his broken infidelity and subsequent divorce behind him, he'll have incorporated enough of new instructor Sean Foley's methods to get his swing back, and he'll be eager to prove that he can still be dominant. Let's look at each of these.

The Past Will be The Past
When Tiger Woods talked on Wednesday about his divorce from Elin Nordegren only two days prior, the weight of the white elephant that had been sitting on Tiger's shoulders was lifted. Many said Tiger even appeared to be a new man during his press conference two days ago at the first "playoff" event in this year's FedExCup at the Barclay's.

Tiger Barclays 2010

I've never tried to play golf or even do my job while suffering from 1/10th of the turmoil that Tiger Woods underwent in 2010. I've seen others go through even amicable divorces, and to say their work, mood, and energy level is understating things to an extreme. Divorces - without all of the sordid affairs and the investigation of a doctor - have a long history of ruining the years and sometimes even careers of players on the PGA Tour.

2011 is still four months away, and the first major is over seven months away. For Tiger, another seven months of healing will do a lot to improve Tiger's attitude, ability to focus, energy levels, and dedication levels.

Sean Foley's Changes Will Kick In
Tiger Woods is an exceptional athlete and a skilled golfer. My proof is a bit of a back-handed compliment - he won as often as he did with the swing he was making under Hank Haney's instruction.

Sean Foley's instruction, which is based largely on the method developed by Mike Bennett and Andy Plummer, is just the medicine Tiger needs. He'll take his hands in instead of out, he'll keep his head from drifting off the ball with a steeper shoulder plane (more tilting and extending during the backswing), and he'll - hopefully - continue to push his hip forward on the downswing.

Tiger's talked about how his previous swing changes - under the eyes of Butch Harmon and Hank Haney - have taken 18+ months to incorporate. These changes will not take that long, as they require significantly less timing to nail. And the proof? Tiger first put some changes in after only a few hours on the range at the PGA Championship and struck the ball better. As I type this article, Tiger shot a near spotless first round of 65 to lead the Barclay's. Is he there? Are the changes baked in? No, but even if he's only 10% of the way there it's only been two weeks. He may not win this week, but he's on the right path, and he'll get there fairly quickly. Again, he's got over seven months until the next major.

Tiger Will Have Something to Prove
Ask Stephen Ames how this works out. Ask Rory Sabbatini how this works out. Ask Vijay Singh's caddie how this works out. You make a small comment about how Tiger might be "beatable" or "gettable" or whatever, and the next thing you know, you've lost 10&8 or been overtaken at Firestone with a Sunday 65 by the guy in red or lose a hard-fought singles match in the Presidents Cup.

Perhaps more than any player in golf, Tiger will take any slight or put-down, real or perceived, and use it to fuel his desire and his willpower. Throughout 2010 the entire world has dumped on Tiger Woods. You read the stories - he's done, he's lost his intimidation factor, he's never again going to be dominant, he won't break Jack's record, etc. Tiger may not have read every word that was written about him, but you can bet your bottom dollar he's aware of how much negativity about his golf is out there, and that he's going to use every bit of that to fuel his game in 2011.

Look Out
The PGA Tour needs to look out for Tiger in 2011. With the triple pack of the weight being off his shoulders, a set of swing changes that will improve his game and relatively quickly, and with something to prove to all the naysayers, Tiger will have a good to great year in 2011. Will we see a level of performance like 2000? I wouldn't go that far. But again, I voted for two majors and four to six regular PGA Tour events.

Photo Credits: © Silverman.

Discussion

  1. kieran123 says:

    Good article. I agree that Tiger will own 2011, this week at the Barclays is already the beginning of something big brewing.

  2. david forde f says:

    I don't thinks so. It will take him a while to get over his emotional problems caused by his behaviour and subsequent divorce. Then he's as rusty as an old pump with his golf. he might win a few but I doubt if he will be back on top form .

  3. Jason says:

    Wow...one good round by Tiger and he's on track to crush in 2011.

    Sometimes I wonder how Tiger could be favored to win the Masters every year...and then I read posts like this.

  4. nevets88 says:

    I have my own selfish reasons for Woods not doing well.

    If he does, Stack and TIlt instruction will probably cost more and I have yet to take a lesson. Was too busy to attend one of the Plummer/Bennett (spelling?) day courses this year and want to next year. If Woods does well next year, I bet the prices will go up as well as demand. Doh! :-)

  5. nevets88 says:

    And I love those Wayne Defrancesco videos. I think I went through all of them and learned alot. They're really worth viewing.

  6. LongTimeAway says:

    My question is, will Tiger be able to putt like he used to? If he can, then he may " own" 2011. If not, then he may coincidently gotten "old" at the same time that his personal life came unraveled.

  7. nick trayne says:

    Tiger's best days are behind him. None of his competitors fear him anymore, and his putting will continue to get worse.

  8. CaptainSpaulding says:

    more Tiger fanboy crap. Get over him, there's far more exciting, and better, players to watch now. I for one look forward to events he is not playing in. Hopefully the Ryder Cup will be one of them.

  9. Wow...one good round by Tiger and he's on track to crush in 2011.

    I wrote most of this article on Wednesday night. I changed a few parts (the dates) because it wasn't published until today (Friday).

    Tiger might not win in 2010. Doesn't change how I feel about 2011. What's your prediction? I've put my thoughts out there. What are yours?

  10. Get over him, there's far more exciting, and better, players to watch now.
    CaptainSpaulding

    Really?? Like who????

    Yep, really exciting to see Mickelson miss another cut. Though there have been some bright spots (like Arjun Atwal's win last week), this year has lacked excitement in my honest opinion. It seems to me like no one even tried to step up and make a name for themselves during Tiger's absence.

    And yes, I watch nearly every weekend, regardless of whether or not Tiger is in the field, Very few exciting moments from this past year immediately come to mind.

  11. Easy says:

    Great article Erik. Just like Wayne says once Tiger gets his swing handled and his short game/putter back in the groove he is going to be lethal.

    I think he has relied on his short game too much to pull him through over the last couple of years.

  12. Jonathan says:

    I am a new member of this excellent forum. I am from Doncaster, Yorkshire in England.
    Personally, I hope Woods performes worse in 2011 than he is doing in 2010. As far as I am concerned, his behaviour has not just been appalling but barely that of a human being. At his first carefully managed press conference after the allegations, he said that he may return to golf someday, maybe even this year. Within a month, he announced he was returning to play in the Masters, the actions of a man who cares more about the game of golf than he ever did about his marriage or his children. He clearly learned nothing from his period in "rehab".
    The longer his slump continues, the harder it will be for him to get his game back, especially his renowned short game which previously masked the shortcomings in his long game.
    The aura surrounding him has gone. Long may it continue.
    I'm glad that he is now struggling in the Barclays. I hope the first round was a one off.

  13. Cornbread says:

    And they said the same things about Watson, and Nicklaus once they started to age and loose more. The Woods years are over. He'll win again, sure, but the magic is gone with age.

  14. misty_mountainhop says:

    Oh come on. He'll "own" f*** all. Great golfer though he undoubtedly is he'll be hard pressed to regain the same sort of aura over the rest of the field that he had before.

    Can we all stop the sycophantic Tiger Woods hoopla now?

  15. Simpleton says:

    I have my own selfish reasons for Woods not doing well. If he does, Stack and TIlt instruction will probably cost more and I have yet to take a lesson. Was too busy to attend one of the Plummer/Bennett (spelling?) day courses this year and want to next year. If Woods does well next year, I bet the prices will go up as well as demand. Doh! nevets88

    If Tiger Woods does well next year Stack & Tilt instruction won't be given credit. Sean Foley and his students including Tiger Woods are quick to disclaim that Foley's method is NOT stack & tilt even though they share some commonalities. For obvious reasons they won't want to be associated with using somebody elses method.

  16. As far as I am concerned, his behaviour has not just been appalling but barely that of a human being.

    You dislike the guy (fair enough), but you can't discount his playing ability because you don't like him. This column isn't about Tiger as a person; it's about Tiger as a golfer.

    And they said the same things about Watson, and Nicklaus once they started to age and loose more.

    Nicklaus won, what, six majors after he turned 35? Two Masters, one U.S. Open, a British Open, and two PGAs. Ben Hogan won ALL but one of his majors after he was 35. It can be done.

    Oh come on. He'll "own" f*** all. Great golfer though he undoubtedly is he'll be hard pressed to regain the same sort of aura over the rest of the field that he had before. Can we all stop the sycophantic Tiger Woods hoopla now?

    Thank you for the claim chowder. And look up the definition - I'm not trying to gain any favor. Just calling it like I see it. You've done the same (though without much supporting information).

    If Tiger Woods does well next year Stack & Tilt instruction won't be given credit.Sean Foley and his students including Tiger Woods are quick to disclaim that Foley's method is NOT stack & tilt even though they share some commonalities.For obvious reasons they won't want to be associated with using somebody elses method.

    Foley is adding components of Stack and Tilt to Tiger's motion, but neither of them will acknowledge it and, frankly, Foley doesn't understand it as well as many who do wish he did. There have already been a bunch of articles written about Tiger and Stack and Tilt. Those in the know realize what he's doing, even if Tiger himself (or Sean O'Hair, or Foley) want to deny it.

    What commonalities do they share? They're commonalities because they're the same pieces. O'Hair's swing is closer to the model than some of the guys who work with Bennett and Plummer, and Tiger's working on taking his hands in, extending and side tilting in the backswing, and hopefully a more linear hip push coming down. All S&T. The parts he's not working on he already does well.

    I don't want to get into a big ol' S&T discussion here, though - that's good for the forum.

  17. misty_mountainhop says:

    Thank you for the claim chowder. And look up the definition - I'm not trying to gain any favor. Just calling it like I see it. You've done the same (though without much supporting information).

    Claim chowder? Quite like that one. Sorry about the expletive previously (shouldn't mix posting and rum).

    Interesting to note TW's 73, 72 following that flawless 65. He may get some of the kinks out of his swing for next year (he's some way off owning his own swing let alone the 2011 golfing calendar) but I don't think he'll ever get that Sunday afternoon aura back - too many know he's mortal now.

    Still, I guess it makes for good copy and we'll all be watching "this space" I've no doubt.

  18. Jonathan says:

    You dislike the guy (fair enough), but you can't discount his playing ability because you don't like him. This column isn't about Tiger as a person; it's about Tiger as a golfer.

    Actually, I believe that Tiger the person and Tiger the golfer do go together. The guy took money from sponsors based on his "perfect family image" as well as his golfing ability, and kids idolised him. I don't think I've heard one sincere apology from him to any of these people. I accept that he has been a great golfer but as a role model and a human being, he is a 28 handicapper. I would rather watch Mickelson play the game with a smile and dignity than see Tiger Woods pouting, sulking and spitting his way to another victory.

  19. Peter Forstall says:

    I would rather watch Mickelson play the game with a smile and dignity than see Tiger Woods pouting, sulking and spitting his way to another victory.Jonathan

    Bah, Phil's no saint either. What of the massive gambling debts or the wife swapping? And hey, you don't get to watch Phil - unlike Tiger, he missed the cut. Bwah ha ha ha.

  20. squaddie says:

    Based on Tiger's performance in the Barclay's I think he's on his way to doing well in 2011. It's great he's working on his swing changes right now as that gives him plenty of time to make them permanent in time before the Masters. His putting average at the Barclays was under 1.8 which shows he's been working hard on his short game as well.

    Tiger's biggest threat to winning any majors in 2011 will be from some of the up-and-coming players. So many of those guys are good enough to win they have a chance to beat Tiger if they are "in the zone" during the particular match. Hard to name one player since we've seen a lot of surprises in 2010 (except for Mickelson winning The Masters). Dustin Johnson is also a strong contender to Tiger, assuming no more bad luck.

    Once Tiger grooves his new swing he needs to keep grinding on all aspects of his game and be consistent about his practice, which increases the chances he will be "in-the-zone" on the particular week of a Major tournament.

    Once Tiger is consistently shooting all rounds under par will be the sign he's going to start winning again, whether that happens this year or next.

  21. Rev.Leon Nickens says:

    I am betting against Tiger at each event. I am glad Japan had a hero right now. 18 Y/o with a 58 WOW

  22. Brian says:

    A lot of these comments are fatuous. As Erik said, this post wasn't about Tiger as a person but as a golfer and it isn't about your personal feelings of rooting against him, but rather a forecast about his success for next year.

    I am wondering how this swing change will be relative others he made in the past in respect to how long it will take for him to be comfortable enough to just think about scoring and not about his swing. I think he will be much more comfortable with this one than when he switched to Haney's method.

    I think he will find some success next year, perhaps a few wins, maybe even a major. There are a lot of good players that are coming into their own and will give Tiger good competition. Winning tournaments, let alone majors, depends sometime on who's hot with their putting and a few lucky breaks. Will this happen to Tiger? I'm not sure. His putting during the final round of the Barclays gives me one instance where he can scramble and make par putts to turn a potentially bad round where he's not swinging good into a good one like he's done in the past.

  23. sean says:

    A lot of guys have looked like world beaters this year - for one or two weekends. I think Woods will have a great 2011. I think 2 majors is a stretch, but I wouldn't have predicted Westwood's comeback, Harrington's 2008/2009, Vijay Singh's run after 40, or Dustin Johnson's comback (of sorts) either.

  24. Joe Dean says:

    I think it will be a fantastic year for Tiger in 2011... why not? He had two top 5's in the majors, and several other high finishes. And all of that in what will arguably his worst performance year ever!! He's hit bottom and he's still competitive!! Yeah, I think Tiger rocks it out next year... its just his style to come roaring back. What... did you all really think he was human??

    I absolutely cant stand Tiger "the guy," but I love to watch and root for Tiger "the golfer."

  25. bobsuruncle says:

    Good article, and yes like many golfers out there I like and want to see the old TW (the golfer). He's good to watch, and he's good for the game. Having said that, i think 2 majors is a stretch.

    1. He hasn't really been competitive (as in threatening to win on the back-9 on sunday) at the Masters for the longest time.

    2. He fares better at the US Open and The Open because he's a talented multi-dimensional player, unlike many of the one dimensional (US) young guns. But there are too many (mother nature) variables at both Opens.

    3. He's never won by large margins at the PGA C'ship.

    I think he's only good for 1 major a year at best.

    But, it'll be good to see him back.

  26. Jason says:

    I wrote most of this article on Wednesday night. I changed a few parts (the dates) because it wasn't published until today (Friday). Tiger might not win in 2010. Doesn't change how I feel about 2011. What's your prediction? I've put my thoughts out there. What are yours?

    I think until Tiger gets his swing in order and regains his putting stroke he's back page news.

    Tiger at this point reminds me of the journeyman pro who is capable of leading the first round of a major, but everyone knows he doesn't have the game to ultimately win the tournament. It's interesting to read that "Joe Blow" is leading after 18 holes at Augusta, but no one expects it to last, and if it does it's a fantastic underdog story. With everything Tiger has going on right now with his swing, head, and knee, he's at that level. All this talk of him of him being "back" simply reeks of hyperbole to me.

  27. JHand says:

    It's not okay to root for Tiger. It wasn't okay before we learned that he's as bad off camera as on and it's not okay now. Please give us more articles on the guys leading tournaments and much less Tiger crap.

  28. It's not okay to root for Tiger.

    I think you meant to post that comment over here.

  29. Francie says:

    I will agree that Tiger will be back, but I am not sure it will be so soon. His greatest strength has always been his mental fortitude and that is flagging at the moment. There are too many deep issues that are deflecting his focus. When children are involved it can take a while to refocus and get the balance back. He is on the ropes right now, he will bounce back, but I think it will take longrer than you think.

  30. Tiger will be better in 2011, but to say he will own it is a stretch.

    While Tiger was out, the fields got deeper. This year there have already been 34 different winners on tour in only 38 events.

    Compare that to years past: In from 2003-2009 there was an average of about 28 winners per year.

    As the rest of the Tour catches up to Tiger, he will find it harder and harder to win. That said, I still would put my money on Tiger getting back in the winners circle a time or two next year, maybe even at Augusta. But he will never again be able to dominate the entire PGA Tour like he did in 99, 2000, and 2005-2007.

  31. Frank X says:

    He's a bit long in the ?tooth to be known as Tiger. Mister Woods, as the NYTwoild use it, is appropriate

  32. Marjorie says:

    Tiger is healing right now and will win a few tournaments in 2011. Once he gets his confidence back, he will be clicking. Considering the adjustments he has had to make on and off the golf course (especially off), I think he is showing that he can stand up to the mental test of life. I am still a fan and I am a person who forgives only because I know I am not perfect. Cheers to all those who would like to continue to hate, like some on this board and the now "famous" Golf channel analyst, but journeyman Brandal Chamblee. Go Tiger.

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