Watch and Learn: Tiger's new swing adjustment
By Brady Riggs
Top 100 Teacher
The question was never really whether Tiger would play well in his return to the PGA Tour (of course he would), but whether his swing would change. The answer to that question is yes. Tiger has made a slight adjustment to his action through impact, relieving some stress on his reconstructed left knee. That's good news for Tiger fans, and bad new for the rest of the Tour.
Tiger has narrowed the width of his stance when hitting iron shots, which lessens the stress on his knee. With his feet closer together, it's easier for him to get his body on top of his left foot at impact. Slightly flaring his left foot also takes some strain off his knee as he rotates to the finish.
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Here's where Tiger's coil starts. The source of his power is this wide, sweeping takeaway where he turns his upper body against the resistance of his legs. No early set of the wrists here Tiger lets the weight of the club do the hinging.
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Here Tiger approaches the top, the last moment before he engages his weight onto his rebuilt knee. His shoulders, arms and hands finish the backswing as a unit, keeping his swing compact and in control.
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Tiger begins the slight lateral move into his left leg. He drives his left shoulder down towards his left foot. This places a heavy burden on the knee, but his narrower stance and stable hip action provide a solid foundation.
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This is what's called a "stacked" left side. Tiger's left shoulder, left hip, left knee and left foot are in a straight line perpendicular to the ground. This is critical because it allows his weight to be spread evenly across his left foot. The left shoulder is critical to getting stacked; it stays lower than the right shoulder late into the downswing, keeping the weight moving into his left side.
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Tiger's impact is perfect. His flat left wrist leads the club into impact with his upper body "covering" the ball. His lower body is very different with his iron swing than his driver. The narrower stance allows both feet to remain grounded at impact, with the hips far less open to the target. Hitting an iron is much easier on his knee, which might explain why Tiger hit only three drives on Day 1 of the Match Play.
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You can see Tiger's slight swing adjustment here. His left knee remains more flexed later into the swing than in the past. His left leg has always snapped straight through impact more with his driver than his irons, but this slight knee bend is new. Whether this is a conscious move or defensive mechanism, it takes pressure off the knee.
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Tiger's upper body moves through toward the target with ease. His left knee is still slightly flexed, a clear difference from past years. The slight flaring of his left foot at address allows his left ankle and knee to rotate with greater ease. Tiger matches his late set of the wrists during the backswing with tremendous extension on the follow-through.
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Tiger's balance is fantastic. His swing is noticeably more controlled and smooth, a natural consequence when returning from an injury. The slight roll of his left foot in the finish would be worse if he had't flared the foot at address. His golf swing continues to mature, a scary thought considering he is just reaching the prime of his career.
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