February 19, 2011
John Cook happens to be one of Tiger Woods' closest friends. So when he showed up on Thursday at a Champions Tour event and proclaimed Woods had finally figured out his new golf swing, people started to take notice.
"As of Monday, it clicked," Cook said, "it finally clicked to him on what exactly, where the face of the club needs to be at certain points, which really sounded to me like kind of old school Butch."
The last time things "clicked" for Woods was back in May 1999, when he called then-swing coach Butch Harmon from the Byron Nelson Classic and said, "I got it."
He went on to win eight of his next 12 tournaments, setting himself up for a 2000 season that many consider to be one of the greatest in golf history. After the way Woods owned Harmon's swing, it'd be easy to believe Cook's comments and wait with bated breath for a Woods resurgence at his next tournament.
But I'm not sure it's that easy this time around. Even if Woods has figured out Sean Foley's swing, he still has to deal with a far greater issue, and that's regaining his confidence.
For Woods, refining his new swing was always going to be the easy part; his success with Haney and Harmon proved he had the talent to figure things out. The biggest difference between this time around and pre-Hydrant-gate is that Woods is in the midst of the worst victory drought of his career.
He failed to close out the Target World Challenge with a four-shot lead, and struggled in the few times he's been near the top of the leaderboard on the weekend.
His confidence is shot, and that's ultimately the biggest reason he's looked so normal of late. When he was winning at a record clip, he always seemed to be in the zone. Recently, he's looked like a guy grasping for a light-switch in the dark. He knows he's close, but he can't seem to find a way to turn the switch back on.
He'll find that switch when he regains some of the confidence that made him the most feared golfer on the planet.
There's no doubt in my mind Woods will find his game again; he's too good of a golfer not to win a handful of majors before the end of his career. But let's be clear: his current struggles won't be fixed with a grooved swing.
If Tiger really wants to get back to where he used to be, he needs to dig deep and find some confidence, not just in his swing, but in himself.