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Michael Bamberger
May 05, 2009
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May 05, 2009

Pga Tour Confidential


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SHIPNUCK: It cuts so many ways. Phil was kind of buoyant leaving the grounds. He trumped Tiger by playing one of the greatest nine holes in golf history. The thing is, Phil played as well as he could play, Tiger played terribly, and Phil beat him by only a stroke.

GARRITY: That's what is so exceptional about Tiger. He is the greatest player in the history of golf even without his A game.

BAMBERGER: Tiger is so obviously the man. For him to shoot 68 when he has no clue what he's doing with his swing is amazing. He still produces a score. Phil had to play out of his mind to shoot 67. Things go awry for Tiger like they do with all golfers, but no one figures it out quicker than Tiger. Let's not worry about Tiger on the basis of his not winning the Masters. Let's not forget what he did two weeks earlier at Bay Hill.

SHIPNUCK: I think Tiger felt a new emotion on the course at the Masters—embarrassment. That opening tee shot on Sunday was so wretched even the most mentally tough player of all time had to have been spooked. It was the biggest round Tiger has played at Augusta in years, and he could barely keep his ball on the planet. It was more than a little humiliating, and it must've hurt his feelings to feel the crowd's allegiance surging to Phil.

ANONYMOUS PRO: My gosh, Tiger is hitting duck hooks now. On Masters Saturday he hooked one on number 9 that rattled around the trees like a pinball. He used to only hit a block. Now he has a two-way miss. His swing is too flat and too much behind him. His left wrist is so bowed, with the club face so shut, he's got to hold on for dear life. If he releases the club at all, it's a duck hook. I never thought I'd say it, but Tiger needs a chain saw now to play Augusta. He's so good, he still had a chance to win, which is amazing, but he can't use his athleticism to save his swing forever.

GARRITY: I haven't been a huge fan of Tiger's latest swing mainly because I thought what he had before, in 2000, was pretty damn great.

VAN SICKLE: Back then he was hitting about 70 percent of the fairways under Butch Harmon. Now he's hitting 57, 58 percent. That's a big drop for a club that was once Tiger's most fearsome weapon. It reminds me of Dean Martin in the cheesy Matt Helm spy spoof from the '60s, The Silencers. He had a gun that shot backward, so when he got caught and the villain tried to kill Matt with his own gun, the villain shot himself. That is not unlike Tiger's driver at the moment.

ANONYMOUS PRO: Phil is still a train wreck waiting to happen. In Houston he proclaimed that he has the best driver he's ever had and that he bombs it straight. So why did he practically hit it off the media building on the 1st hole twice in Augusta? I've said it before: Phil is too caught up in power and hitting it far. Look at the 18th hole on Sunday. If he makes birdie there and posts, who knows? That hole is custom-made for his three-wood. He could hit it 285 yards with his usual draw, take the bunkers out of play and have eight-iron in. Instead he pounds a big hook with his driver into the trees. That's a lack of discipline and poor decision-making. By the way, Kenny Perry never should have hit driver there either. I heard later that Bones [Mackay], Phil's caddie, wanted him to hit three-wood, but Phil grabbed the driver and said, I've got it. He had it, all right—right in the pine straw.


VAN SICKLE: If any event cried out for a three-hole playoff more than the Masters with its Amen Corner, it has to be the Players with 16, 17 and 18. Last year's playoff, starting on the 17th, a hole where they hit wedges, didn't feel right. It reminded me of the Merrill Lynch Shootout chip-offs they used to have on Tuesday afternoons at Tour stops.

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