In short, nothing because Humpty Dumpty has already fallen. Lanny H Golf nailed the motivation behind the timing of the firing with his piece today and how it’s midway between the PGA Championship and Ryder Cup. Tiger, being the narcissist that he is, couldn’t stand to stay out of the limelight for too long and kicked Sean Foley to the curb just as interest in Woods was waning. What I found more than coincidental is that Foley also coaches Hunter Mahan, who just won The Barklays, and the dismissal came not one day after his victory. Really Tiger?
Looking at the merits of the firing, this should have been done several years ago, but now it doesn’t matter who’s trying to put the pieces back together. Readers of this blog know that I think Sean Foley’s approach is very technical, so much so that his students play golf swing; not golf. The most casual observers of Tiger’s play under Foley could pick up the overly mechanical approach and it has devastated Tiger’s previously superior golf mind.
Again, it’s too late, but if Tiger even thinks he has a shot at resurrecting his game, I would advise a series of appointments with a Bob Rotella type to first get his mind right, then think about a swing coach. Tiger is damaged goods and no top flight swing coach should think of taking on this rebuild project.
The 2014 U.S. Open is setting up to play out as one of the most intriguing majors in recent memory. Will the back-to-back line up with the Women’s Open have an impact? You bet it will, as will the course redesign by Coors and Crenshaw in 2010. Picking a winner this early requires some deep analysis. Let’s go out on a limb and make a prognostication without seeing results from The Memorial, because I’m gearing up for my own U.S. Open (Myrtle Beach trip) and can’t take the time next weekend. So here’s your early winning pick – call your bookie now to get the best odds 🙂
When I traveled in 2011 and played Pinehurst #2, along with gathering data for the course review, I was trying to evaluate how this storied venue would stack up for the Open after the redesign. What immediately struck me was how wide open it was off the tee. I had mentally prepared to be hitting a lot of 3WDs but ended up with driver on every par 4 and 5. We were playing if from the same yardage as the women will play the following week, but noticed that our tee shots were landing with ample room in the fairways and there was literally no rough. The natural waste areas were mostly sand but were not played as a hazard (unless you were in a bunker within the waste areas). I thought the way they had these laid out was awkward and it would be difficult to determine how to play if your ball was on the edge of a bunker. Expect an abundance of USGA officials traveling with each group to speed along ruling inquiries, but the main takeaway is that unlike most U.S. Open venues, the rough will not be the penal impediment it usually is.
Pinehurst’s crowned greens will be the course’s main defense, BUT they won’t be able to shave them down and dry them out almost to the point of burning them because of the Women’s Open immediately following. So with small reasonably well watered greens, expect some diabolical pin placements and a premium on chipping, missing the greens on the correct side, and solid bunker play; but not a fairways and greens affair.
This sets up perfectly for Matt Kuchar who will win the tournament.
Kuchar is not the greatest driver of the ball but has a wonderful short game, is getting in contention with every major, is from the southeast, and just feels like the right pick. I’m giving him a pass on the missed cut at Colonial.
Justin Rose is the defending champion and his golf swing looks great. He’s over his shoulder injury and actually seems rather bulked up (have you noticed too?) and I’m wondering if he’s been collaborating with Tiger The Gym Rat Woods, considering they both work with Sean Foley. Normally, I’d take Rose to repeat in a ball striking competition, but his short game is not strong enough. His form is good for a top 10, though.
Coming in a close second again is the hottest golf property on the planet, Jordan Spieth. He is getting so close, is so mentally mature and tough, that it’s just a matter of time; just not this time.
So that brings us to Phil Mickelson, who would be the perfect pick for the way this course sets up. Phil is without a top 10 this year and despite finishing second at Pinehurst to Payne Stewart back in 1999, Lefty will remain a sentimental pick.
So what about Rory McIlroy and Woz-gate? Good timing or bad? I say bad and a missed cut.
So there you have it with Koooch finally getting his first major. You like this pick or someone else?
Well put a nine-iron through the window, look who’s coming back to play golf. If you ascribe to the Horses for Courses theory, this is the right move for the seven-time Firestone winner. Despite his historical dominance, Tiger finished 78th out of 80 in last year’s Bridgestone and hit the ball just terribly. Can we expect an improved performance next week? Let’s compare his situation from a year ago. Last year he had played every 2-3 weeks leading up to Bridgestone with appearances at Memorial, U.S. Open, AT&T, and British Open. Now, Tiger is newly divorced (albeit 12 months further removed from the scandal), has fired his long-time caddy, has rehabbed a recent injury to leg and Achilles, has a new mechanical-minded genius (Sean Foley) counseling him on his game, and hasn’t played in 11 weeks since withdrawing at The Players Championship. The fact is Tiger is now a middle of the road pro with a ton of mental and physical baggage. The champion we once new is gone forever.
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