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Trials and tribulations - Does Tiger Woods have the chipping yips?

By: Golf Shake | Mon 02 Feb 2015

Post by Sports Writer Derek Clements

THE last time that Tiger Woods played in the Phoenix Open, it took an army of spectators to move a huge boulder laughably described as a moveable object. To have helped him out this year would have involved them moving boulders, digging up cactus trees, chopping down bushes and draining lakes - and even then, he probably still would have required divine intervention to make the cut. And that isn't happening in his life at present - not on the golf course at any rate.

Tiger Woods Phoenix Golf Channel twitter

To put things into perspective, the 82 he scored in the second round at TPC Scottsdale was his worst in 19 years and 1,267 official rounds as a professional. Just stop and think about that for a minute. This is not a difficult golf course and although the conditions were far from perfect, they did not prevent Martin Laird from only requiring 66 blows the same day.

It is not as if you can point to one part of his game and say that it is the area he needs to improve - he may have rediscovered some power off the tee, but that only means he can hit the ball even further into trouble; his laser-like accuracy with his irons has vanished; his putting is a shadow of the weapon it once was; and his chipping would, quite frankly, be laughable if it were not so serious.

He has taken to chunking straightforward shots - or thinning them. Not that Woods is the only world-class golfer to be suffering from the heebie-jeebies with a wedge in his hand. Martin Kaymer, the US Open champion, has always tended to opt for the putter if he is within 10 yards of the putting surface and we saw why during the second round of the Dubai Desert Classic when he struck a chip that would have embarrassed most 24-handicappers.

Watching it in replay, the German clearly allowed the clubhead to get ahead of his hands at impact - it was one of those moments where you have to rub your eyes in disbelief. A bit like watching Tiger's trials and tribulations from just off the green at the Hero World Challenge in December and again in Phoenix. People who know a lot more about these things than I do, say that Woods and Kaymer have the yips with the wedge.

The more observant of you will immediately point to the pitch that Kaymer holed to close out his Ryder Cup singles match at Gleneagles last year, but there was a crucial difference - on that occasion, his ball was not sitting on a tightly-mown approach to the green; it was in the rough. Kaymer also remains as good as ever from the sand. So if he can get it up and down from the rough and from greenside bunkers, why can't he do so from a perfect lie just off the putting surface?

It's all between the ears, apparently. Woods claims to have hit "thousands upon thousands" of pitch shots in practice, but when it comes to crunch time, all those shots may as well have never been struck. It was agonising to watch this man, who not so long ago was regarded as a short-game magician, chip like a beginner. It has even affected his bunker play - and he was one of the best from the sand that the world has ever seen.

While we are the subject of trials and tribulations, Keegan Bradley, Laird and Webb Simpson were among the most vociferous opponents of the worldwide ban on anchored putting, which comes into effect on January 1, 2016. They all moaned that they had never used anything other than a belly putter and that it was unfair to punish them.

So what would they do? Finally accepting that the ban was inevitable, all of them have abandoned the belly putter. At the Sony Open, Simpson required a miserly 48 putts in the opening two rounds. Bradley opened his account in Phoenix with a 66, rolling putts in from all over the place, and Laird blah blah....

It is to be assumed, then, that we will be hearing no more nonsense from this trio about how unfair life is. It just goes to show that where there is a will there is most certainly a way to get the ball in the hole legally.

Time alone will tell whether Woods and Kaymer are able to find solutions to their problems. If only it were as easy for them as being able to change one club for another, as Laird, Simpson and Bradley have done. We look on with interest.

Tiger Woods talks to the media about his chipping woes following the second round of the Phoenix Open 


Image credit - Golf Channel Twitter

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Tags: tiger woods Martin Kaymer

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