LA JOLLA, Calif. — Tiger Woods doesn’t like being embarrassed any more than anyone else does. So he did just what you would expect during Wednesday’s pro-am at the Farmers Insurance Open. He practiced his chipping.
Woods got in as much extra work around the greens as he could while his amateur partners were finishing up their putts. Tiger’s chips looked a little better than his horrific efforts at the Waste Management Phoenix Open a week ago, where his short game was truly embarrassing. The long grass around the Torrey Pines green is quite grabby, and to be honest, he didn’t look totally comfortable with it at any point, either.
It is still a transition between the swing pattern he used while working with Sean Foley and the pattern he’s trying now while working with Chris Como. There’s a sort of no-man’s-land in between and Tiger says that’s where he’s stuck and still trying to get out of.
“I’m caught in between patterns,” Woods said. “They are polar opposites, the movement patterns. So when I do half of one or half of the other, it’s pretty bad. It’s just like it was when I first started working with Sean versus Hank (Haney). They’re completely different release patterns.”
Tiger said that when hitting shots under pressure, he still unknowingly reverts to his old style at times. “You get so target-oriented that sometimes the old patterns come out, but you have a new one that’s still trying to come out as well and you get caught.”
Woods arrived in Phoenix last week in a pleasant mood, seeming confident and enthusiastic. After a weekend of practice at home, he seemed a little less confident and enthused Wednesday. It’s nice when Woods arrives in a happy, smiley mood but that doesn’t always coincide with him playing well. His more serious, subdued tone Wednesday could actually be a positive sign for him.
“I’m making progress, I just need to stick with it,” Woods said. “This is going to be a tough week. The rough is up this week, I was shocked at how fast the greens are on the North Course. They’re normally not that fast. We’ll see.”
The North Course is the easier and more scenic of the two courses at Torrey Pines. Players in the field play one round each at the North and South courses, then those who make the cut on the weekend play the South for the final two rounds.
Tiger admitted that his chipping remains a bit off, but he’s working on it. “The pattern with Sean was a totally different release pattern than I’m doing now and that affects the short game,” he said. “My impact points are different, the bottoms (of the swings) are different now. I just need reps … and it will start becoming more natural. As of right now, it’s not, but when I do it and look on video, it’s incredible how good it is. But when I do it wrong, you see I’m caught dead in between.”
Woods will play Thursday with Rickie Fowler and Billy Horschel on the North Course.
Asked if he was curious about how Tiger will play after Phoenix, Fowler smiled and said, “Everyone’s curious. I’ll be focused on what I’m trying to do. I look forward to playing with Tiger, it’s always fun. I’m not going to be paying any extra attention to what he’s doing, though.”
Fowler said he understands what Tiger went through shooting big numbers in Phoenix. “I know how he feels because I’ve posted those numbers before,” he said. “That’s golf.”
Woods said he practiced chipping in his backyard green at home and had been practicing in his hitting bay.
Overall, Tiger was cautiously upbeat. “Chris and I are working our tails off to get this,” Tiger said. “I want to be ready come Augusta and the rest of the majors but we’ve still got some work to do.”
He’d like to get into the field at Doral, which hosts a World Golf Championship event, but he’s going to have to play his way in because only the top 50 in the world rankings are invited and Tiger has dropped to 56th. If he gets in, he said, he’d be happy to get four more rounds of tournament play under his belt but if he doesn’t, well, there’s still Augusta in April.
“It would be nice to earn my way there,” Woods said of Doral. “I’m obviously going to have to play better than I did last week.”