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Trevino to Tiger: Call me

Photo: Darren Carroll/SI

Lee Trevino would relish the chance to help Tiger Woods repair his swing.

In the first round of the Players Championship last week, on the par-4 seventh hole, Tiger Woods stood on the tee, brought the club back, transitioned it forward while dipping his head, and hit a fat 3-wood that traveled only 190 yards and barely reached the fairway.

It was the kind of lunge-chunk you'd expect to see from a weekend hacker, not a touring professional, and certainly not a shot you'd expect to see from Woods, who could quit today and be one of the two best players ever.

It wasn't an aberration, either. At Quail Hollow two weeks ago Woods hit just six of 28 fairways and shot a 36-hole score of 153, the worst of his career, to miss the cut.

The long game, which Woods mastered under his old coach Butch Harmon, is driving him crazy. And now his coach of six years, Hank Haney, has left him, splitting with Tiger via text message Monday. Who's next?

"Tell him to come down to Dallas and I'll teach him how to drive the ball," Lee Trevino told me recently.

Haney's exit creates a coveted job opening, given that the only ones not giving Woods swing advice these days are his dogs, border collie, Taz, and labradoodle, Yogi. But there's advice, and there's advice worth hearing.

In his day, Trevino was known for being a good front-runner for the simple reason that he hit fairways. Like NBC analyst and former touring pro Johnny Miller, Golf.com contributor Brandel Chamblee and many others, the "Merry Mex" doesn't like what he's seeing in Tiger's action. Although he approached 70 percent driving accuracy while employing the tighter, more upright action taught by Harmon, Woods had dropped to 60 percent while flattening his swing under Haney.

In Charlotte he was at just over 20 percent.

"He's too wristy for a big guy," Trevino said of Woods. "He snaps his hands at the bottom, and it's very hard to do that and time it right so the ball goes straight."

It's an age-old swing flaw. Trevino remembers his old caddie, Herman Mitchell, once telling him about a hot young kid named Davis Love III whom Mitchell had caddied for. He hits the ball forever, Mitchell said. You've got to see him.

Asked Trevino, "Can he hit it straight?"

Replied Mitchell: "He's a little wristy."

The solution, Trevino believes, is a baby cut.

"Tiger doesn't know how to work the ball left-to-right," Trevino said. "He thinks he does, but he doesn't. I don't want to change his swing. I don't even want anybody to know I did anything."

The fix, according to Lee, involves a slight grip change and a firmer left wrist through impact.

"Look at Ernie Els," Trevino said. "He swings so easy. Tiger can't keep his hips, hands and shoulders working together. There's no way a guy who's so accurate with his irons should be that inaccurate with his driver. He's got to be doing something unusual."

Woods has talked about "owning" his swing to the point where he wouldn't need a coach, but it's obvious that these days he's not even a part owner of his swing. He needs help, even though he may be the last one to know it.

"I chipped poorly, putted poorly, but for the most part I didn't really hit the ball that poorly until the end, when it was already pretty much out of reach," he said in Charlotte.

This isn't the first time Trevino, a six-time major winner, has reached out to Woods, whose stated goal has always been to surpass Jack Nicklaus's 18 majors. But so far, Trevino has gotten no response from Woods.

"It's a thing where a guy really needs to be in front of you to teach it," he said. "I've told Notah Begay a couple of times to have Tiger call me, but I haven't heard anything."

 

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