UPDATE: Woods acknowledged on Saturday at the Northern Trust that he did switch the shaft on his driver. According to Woods, it was an old shaft he used to play that he has now gone back to:
“Yeah, it’s a feeling that I know and I used to use it for a number of years. I know the graphics have changed a little bit but it’s basically the same shaft. Went back to something that I knew and had success with, and it’s turned out pretty good.”
Tiger Woods has surpassed even the most optimistic predictions in his most recent comeback. But one area of Woods’s game still needs work: his driving accuracy.
Woods nearly won the last two majors. He finished solo second at the PGA Championship at Bellerive. The month before at the British Open he took the lead on the back nine on Sunday before finishing T6. But his driver was either absent or misbehaving badly at both events.
At the PGA, Tiger couldn’t buy a fairway in regulation. He hit 5 of 14 on Sunday and was fighting Bellerive’s thick rough all week. At hard and fast Carnoustie, Woods barely pulled his driver out of the bag, mostly sticking with irons off the tee.
But he needs to improve his accuracy to take the next step in his comeback. That’s especially true if he wants to win the FedEx Cup. To that end, Woods is testing out new shafts and new loft settings on the range at this week’s Northern Trust.
Woods noted as much during his press conference Tuesday at Ridgewood in New Jersey.
“We’ve been working on it, experimenting with different shafts and different lofts on my driver and 3-wood,” he said. “Just trying to figure it out. Same thing with my two-iron. Just trying different things. I’ve still got two more days and I’ll still be monkeying around with a couple things and come game time we’ll see what I go with.”
Woods has used a TaylorMade M3 driver and fairway wood throughout the 2017-18 season. At the PGA, he played his M3 driver bent to 8.5 degrees with a Mitsubishi Tensei CK Pro Orange 70TX shaft. He used a Mitsubishi Tensei CK Pro Orange 90 TX shaft with his 13-degree M3 fairway wood. Reports say he’s experimenting with adding loft to his driver this week.
All in all, Woods is ranked 175th in driving accuracy this season. That comes out to an ugly 55.43%. His distance results are far better. He’s averaging 304.7 yards off the tee with his driver, good for 33rd on Tour.
Woods knows that to win this week on a long and soft Ridgewood Country Club, he needs to hit more fairways, no matter what stick he swings.
“I’m going to have to drive the ball well, and whatever club it is, it is.”