No matter what Tiger Woods does on Sunday afternoon at the Memorial -- he fired a 1-over 73 on Saturday and sits four shots behind leader Spencer Levin -- he can take away a lot of positives from this week.
After watching Woods struggle for a month with his swing, through three rounds at Muirfield Village, he's put together one of the best ball-striking weeks we've seen from him in some time.
We're talking five-shot victory at the Arnold Palmer Invitational good. Woods is hitting fairways and greens (he's currently leading the Memorial field in GIR) with regularity, and with the exception of the occasional loose swing seems to have tightened things since missing the cut at the Players Championship. There's no question this is the kind of tee-to-green performance he was looking for ahead of the U.S. Open.
Now if he could just get his short game to cooperate as well. In the on-going search to find his swing again, Woods is still missing his touch around the greens. This isn't ground-breaking news, mind you. He's been struggling with his short game for the last couple of months.
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But considering how well he's hit the ball this week, it's only magnified the fact that the best part of his game (the part that made him the greatest golfer on the planet) is still missing.
That was evident again on Saturday, as Woods missed birdie putts from 7, 9, ,10 10, 10 and 14 feet, never once looking comfortable or confident over a key putt. He also struggled again with his chipping, failing to get up-and-down on a number of occasions on the back nine that led to a couple costly bogeys.
If you want to know how bad it's gotten for Woods in the chipping department, take a look at these stats. From 20-30 yards, Woods is T136 on tour in scrambling. From inside 10 yards, T93. From 10-20 yards, T42.
Stats don't lie: Woods' short game is killing his chances of not only staying in contention this week, but pretty much ever week he tees it up. To say this part of his game needs a serious overhaul is an understatement.
Sure, Woods is fighting the flu this week and should be commended for gutting it out. But his health isn't what's hurting his chances this week: It's his short game. It doesn't matter how many times Woods leads the field in greens in regulation going forward; if he can't make a putt or get up-and-down for par, the struggles will continue.
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