PGA Tour Confidential: The best Tour player under 30, Tiger's major drought and how to fix slow play

Sean Foley, Tiger Woods
Getty Images
Tiger Woods has yet to win a major under Sean Foley's tutelage. They began working together in 2010.

5. In an interview with Charlie Rose this week, Sean Foley attributed Tiger Woods’ major drought to the “random, arbitrary nature of golf.” So is Tiger’s next major victory just a matter of time or is something else holding him back?

BAMBERGER: I think Foley has developed a theory about Woods's drought in majors that makes total sense if you are Woods' teacher. I don't think Woods' barren spell here is random or arbitrary. I think he's not as good at golf as he used to be, for a bunch of reasons, including psyche. But he's still better than everybody else. And because he is, I would be very surprised if he never wins a 15th major. I think he will win another major before he turns 40, and I think he'll win at least one major in his 40s. I would never, ever be dismissive of this player. Too much talent, too much drive, too much experience. Sean Foley knows far, far more than I, but my guess is that Woods's finishes in majors since Torrey Pines go way deeper than randomness.

MORFIT: I can see where Sean is coming from: the 15th hole at Augusta National, when Tiger hit the flagstick and watched his ball bound back into the water, which ultimately may have cost him as many as four strokes and which may have been the worst break in major championship history. That said, I can't agree that the "random, arbitrary nature of golf" is entirely to blame for Tiger's drought. It's in his head. 

SENS: If by the "random, arbitrary" nature of golf he's referring to the "relentless and far-from-arbitrary rise in the quality of the competition" and the "inevitable wear and tear of age and injury" to say nothing of the "not so shocking build-up of psychic scar tissue" coupled with some "painstakingly undertaken swing-changes" then, yes, I agree with him 100 percent.

VAN SICKLE: At his best, Tiger could hit every shot at any time with any club. That's not the case, now, and his driver has long since gone from being his greatest weapon to his biggest problem. He's lost that edge off the tee on the weekend in major championships, and thus he hasn't been the same old super closer he once was. Factor in those knee surgeries, the Achilles issues and what is obviously a fairly complicated swing, and that's why he isn't getting it done in majors anymore, even though he can still get it done on courses where he's comfortable.

SHIPNUCK: Does Foley know that Tiger won 14 majors in the span of 11 years? There was nothing random or arbitrary about that -- he was the best player but, more than that, he was the toughest mentally. Clearly Woods lacks that same belief now. If he keeps hanging around leaderboards, he may be able to back into one more major championship victory, but to win them consistently again he needs to rediscover that old self-belief.

RITTER: Not to sound like Tiger, but if he keeps putting himself in position to win on Sunday, it has to happen eventually, even if he just backs into one. But he hasn’t broken 70 on the weekend in his last eight majors. Change that, and golf might seem far less “arbitrary.”

PASSOV: If not for that crazy flagstick play -- and subsequent lunacy -- Tiger may very well won the Masters, and who knows what other majors in 2013. The "random, arbitrary nature of golf," however, has more to do with the crushing amount of pressure he's under with every swing he makes in a major, not fate.

6. The USGA is hosting a slow-play symposium at its Far Hills, NJ, headquarters this week. What’s the biggest cause of slow play in recreational golf, and what if anything can be done about it?

SHIPNUCK: I'd rather hang out in a Turkish prison for the weekend than sit through that symposium. You can't legislate a cure for slow play -- it's a deeply personal issue, and every single golfer needs to make a commitment to speed up. Since we know that'll never happen, I've stopped worrying about slow play and learned to enjoy the leisurely pace.

VAN SICKLE: Severely sloped greens are a leading cause of slow play. When your third putt still isn't in the gimmie zone, that's a problem. Pin positions, the speed of greens and the length of rough all contribute to slow play. I'd put looking for lost golf balls No. 1 on the list of reasons, however. Bad play, No. 2 -- the more shots you have to hit, the longer it takes. Not being ready to hit when it's your turn, No. 3, and that includes when the carts pull up to the tee and nobody in the foursome makes a move to hit even though the fairway is clear because they're story-telling and/or lighting a cigar.

RITTER: Tricking up courses to be tougher than ever is at least part of the problem. I also think many recreational players take their cues from what they see on TV, like plumb-bobbed 3-footers and elaborate pre-shot routines. If we can squash slow play at the golf’s top tours there’s a good chance we’d see a ripple effect throughout the game.

BAMBERGER: I am fast player who is slow when actually standing over the ball. (Wish I could say otherwise.) The root of the problem is golfers not advancing to their ball at all times. This idea that you have to stay behind the golfer who is farthest away is criminally wrong. Of course, two players in a cart make it harder to advance. But you should. You should be grabbing clubs and advancing to your ball at all times, even if it means -- God forbid! -- you are abandoning your cart for a few minutes. Keep heading to your ball at all times, while being aware of your surroundings. Think about your shot en route to it. And miss 'em quick.

SENS: If only it were one problem. But if I had to pick the biggest, I'd go with common misconception that taking six practice swings and studying a putt from four sides will lead to better scores. As a remedy, I'm in favor of an unapologetic campaign of public shaming, but that's not very politically correct.

MORFIT: The biggest problem is around the greens, with guys looking at every putt from 10 different angles because Tiger does it that way and just look at the scores that guy shoots. Just hit the damn ball and let's go to the next tee.

PASSOV: I just polled a small crowd here at BallenIsles Country Club in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., where Jack Nicklaus won the 1971 PGA Championship. I'm hearing "gambling" and "wagering" as one reason guys take so much time; "not enough bunker rakes," "bad" or "no rangers," "hole is too small." Interestingly, they said in unison that pace of play is actually quite good here. I think modern courses are too hard -- too many hazards, greens that are too fast for the amount of contour, folks playing the wrong set of tees, and spending too much time looking for balls in the rough.

GODICH: Ready-golf -- or lack thereof!

The PGA Tour Confidential debate continues Monday on our new weekly show hosted by Jessica Marksbury. Tweet her your questions @Jess_Marksbury.

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