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SPORTS ILLUSTRATED CONVENED A PANEL OF GOLF EXPERTS—SENIOR WRITERS MICHAEL BAMBERGER, DAMON HACK, ALAN SHIPNUCK AND GARY VAN SICKLE AS WELL AS SPECIAL CONTRIBUTOR JOHN GARRITY—AND A PGA TOUR PRO (WHO PARTICIPATED ON THE CONDITION OF ANONYMITY) TO TAKE UP THESE AND OTHER QUESTIONS
Van Sickle: I believe it's mandated in our bylaws that we discuss Tiger Woods. He was impressive in Australia and again at the Chevron World Challenge, wasn't he?
Hack: Tiger looks alive. Two good weeks in Oz and one in L.A. has me convinced that he has that trust and belief again. He turned those final two putts at the Chevron into no-doubters—just like the old days.
Anonymous Pro: All the signs are encouraging and good for him, because Tiger has been sucking eggs for two years. The Presidents Cup gave him something to build on. A lot of people want to see him play well. His return would give our game a shot in the arm.
Van Sickle: When even Johnny Miller raves about your swing, you're doing something right. How is Tiger's tempo looking, John?
Garrity: Better, but still a little ragged according to the titan of tempo, John Novocel. Tiger is still inconsistent, but overall he has more swings where he's not ridiculously fast on one end or the other. With the swing changes behind him, he can focus more on his short game and putting, the keys to winning.
Hack: I did a Q&A with Tom Kite recently, and he thinks Tiger will win tournaments again, but majors remain to be seen. I want to see Tiger's swing hold up on the most exacting courses in the most demanding conditions. Majors are all that matter now for Tiger. He's all about winning five more.
Garrity: Tiger is far more likely to win majors than regular tournaments. When it comes down to a Sunday afternoon and it's Tiger and 10 guys who haven't won majors, Tiger is far more likely to prevail. He's more comfortable in that position.
Anonymous Pro: I'm not sure Tiger has the driver back. How many drivers did he hit in Australia? Until he gets that club figured out, I'm not convinced he's ready to contend. The only thing I'm surprised by is how long it has taken for somebody with his talent to get back to this point. His battle now is between his ears. That's a new thing for him.