Tiger Woods may have hit the ball into water five times during nine practice holes at Sawgrass yesterday, but he believes he has the answer to the swing problems which caused him to miss just the sixth cut of his career last week. "I know what the fix is," he said.
Woods is renowned for bouncing back after his poor performances (he has followed up the last four missed cuts with top-three placings) but the bookmakers do not fancy him to continue this trend at The Players Championship this week.
For the first time since he won the Masters by 12 strokes in 1997, Woods is not the outright favourite for the sport's richest event, which begins tomorrow. At 8-1, Phil Mickelson is rated to have the same chance.
There is added incentive for Mickelson in Jacksonville this week. If he wins and Woods finishes outside the top five, golf will have a new No 1 in the rankings. Mickelson lifted his third Masters title three weeks ago and at the Quail Hollow Championship on Sunday claimed second behind Rory McIlroy. Woods, of course, had been eliminated from the Charlotte event on Friday after recording the worst 36-hole total in 14 seasons as a professional.
While Woods' rhythm is plainly askew, many think his latest performance has as much to do with the ongoing turmoil in his personal life as the five-month break he took in the wake of the revelations of all his extra-marital affairs. Yet Woods, while admitting that the intense media scrutiny is having an impact, did claim to be back on the right track golf-wise.
"It's getting better, no doubt – it couldn't get any worse," said Woods, who posted rounds of 74-79 at Quail Hollow. "I know what the fix is and I've proven it to myself. It's just a matter of going out there and executing it consistently over 72 holes."
Woods will have the company of England's Ian Poulter for the first two rounds. Together with Hunter Mahan they tee off at 1.28pm local time, so avoiding the dreaded Friday afternoon slot. This is when the crowd around the infamous 17th and its island green are at their most raucous. Perhaps Woods' luck is finally changing.Reuse content