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SIGOLF+ asked GOLF MAGAZINE's Top 100 Teachers what they think is Tiger Woods's biggest issue. The highest percentage of the Top 100 says Woods's problem is all in his head, but the next four highest-rated trouble areas—Tiger's bum left knee, his driving, putting and coaching—are directly related to swing mechanics, and many of the Top 100 offered detailed, and in one case whimsical, fixes to Woods's issues. The best are inside.
SIGNS OF SLIPPAGE
Here are the cold facts: Three years removed from his 14th major championship, an epic victory at the 2008 U.S. Open, Tiger Woods heads to Congressional still searching for the increasingly elusive 15th. Woods's last win of any kind came at the Australian Masters in November 2009. Since then he has made 22 starts without a W—the longest drought of his professional career.
Woods's first coach was Butch Harmon, who was replaced by Hank Haney in 2004. In May '10, Woods split with Haney and three months later began working with Sean Foley. Woods's best finish this year has been a tie for fourth at the Masters, during which he strained his left Achilles tendon and left knee while hitting a shot from an awkward lie during the third round. Woods withdrew from last month's Players after nine holes, citing those injuries. Since his freshman year at Stanford, Woods has had four surgeries on his left knee, prompting speculation that he may be a candidate for a knee replacement.
Congressional puts a premium on driving and putting—two areas in which Tiger has struggled during the past 18 months. From 2002 through '09 his average driving distance was 301.5 yards. Since the start of '10, that average has dipped to 292.4 yards. Not only has Woods lost almost 10 yards off the tee, but during the same period his driving accuracy has also dropped from 60.4% fairways hit to 54.7%. (The stress of that loss of distance and accuracy off the tee is laid bare in Woods's falling greens-hit-in-regulation percentage, 70.55% from '02 through '09, 66.59% thereafter.)
Traditional putting stats fail to detect much deterioration in Tiger's stroke, but the PGA Tour's newest index—strokes gained putting—tells the real story. Woods used to gain more than a half stroke a round on the field (.60) with his putter, but since the beginning of 2010 he has gained less than .15 of a stroke, or a 75% drop, which puts Woods barely above the Tour average.
Cog Hill Golf & Country Club, Lemont, Ill.