Tiger tidbits

Here’s the latest Tiger newsletter from his Web site…
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January 19, 2007

By Tiger Woods

Hi everybody. Hope your New Year is off to a great start!

Needless to say, I’m excited about 2007. Finding out that I’m going to become a father this summer feels pretty darn great. Elin and I don’t know whether we’re going to have a boy or a girl, and we’re debating whether to find out. As long as it’s healthy, that’s the main thing. We’re not even close to picking a name.

I had a great time during the holidays and went skiing in Colorado with family and friends. I must admit I’m improving on the slopes. It’s like anything: the more repetitions you do, the better you get.

My birthday was pretty quiet. I hung out with some friends and mostly slept.

I got back into golf a couple weeks ago. Hank Haney came to Florida and we worked hard for four or five days. It was just a matter of getting the bugs out. From there, I worked on my own.

My close friend Notah Begay III visited and we spent about a week practicing together and playing little games. It was just like the old days at Stanford, when we would grind and needle each other. Notah qualified for the European Tour this year and I wish him luck. He has a lot of talent, but has battled back injuries and I hope he can stay healthy.

Speaking of Stanford, I was excited to hear that Michelle Wie has been accepted. It’s too bad that she won’t be able to play on the team, but it will be a great time for her to learn and grow as a person. I hope that she’s able to take advantage of what Stanford has to offer.

As I said on my website, I’m going to start the 2007 PGA Tour next week by defending my title at the Buick Invitational. I’ve loved playing Torrey Pines since my days in the Junior World and look forward to the tournament. Even though they have redesigned the South Course, it’s still a wonderful layout and I always enjoy San Diego.

I closed the 2006 PGA Tour season by winning six-straight events, so technically I’m going for seven in a row. That would be nice, but as I said last year, my streak really ended when I lost in the first round of the HSBC World Match Play Championship in England.

After Buick, I’ll defend my title in the Dubai Desert Classic and spend a couple days looking at my new golf course design project, Al Ruwaya. I’ve already worked on the plans and can’t wait to get started. This is something I dreamed about doing as a kid and I take it very seriously. My goal is to create the most interesting and challenging course I possibly can.

That’s it for now. Talk to you again next month.

Tiger

TIGER’S TIP

By Tiger Woods, Golf Digest Playing Editor, Edited by Peter Morrice

Control It

The trend toward firmer, faster courses has created harder-to-hit target areas and has placed an emphasis on control clubs. More players are using fairway woods and hybrids off the tee to avoid the deep stuff. Power might still be the dominant mind-set on tour, but control is catching up.

I’ve always been a pretty good fairway-wood player, so when I replaced my 2-iron with a 5-wood at the end of 2005, it wasn’t a big deal. The 5-wood goes higher and flies a little farther, plus the ball lands more softly. I’ve always carried a 3-wood, and I still use it off the tee and into par 5s.

I’m hitting these clubs better than ever because I’ve shallowed out my swing plane, which helps me make sweeping contact, and worked on controlling my release through impact to dictate ball flight. Here I’m hitting my 3-wood. I’m at the very top of my backswing, fully coiled and ready to unleash. See below for the rest of the swing.

The key to hitting fairway woods is making a shallow angle of attack. It helps to stay wide going back so you can keep that width coming down (left) for a shallow approach. A good thought for me is to maintain the space between my hands and my head, especially as I start down. That’s a sign that I haven’t made a violent move from the top and that I’m positioned to swing from the inside with a sweeping motion. Also, my head stays pretty still as I go–I’ve worked on that; I used to make a big lateral move.

One change in my approach to hitting fairway woods is how I control trajectory and ball flight. For example, instead of positioning the ball back in my stance and beating down on it to hit it low, now I keep a flatter angle into the ball and have the club bottom out at impact. I feel as if I’m chasing the ball with my right hand straight down the target line. Notice how the back of my left hand faces the target after impact (left)–that means I won’t see a lot of curve on this ball. And my right heel is still close to the ground, proof that I’ve stayed with the shot.

My move through the ball reveals what kind of shot I’ve attempted. If I cut off my follow-through, as I’m doing here, I’ve hit a low shot. On a higher shot I swing into a full, balanced finish. In both cases, my belt buckle faces the target, and I finish on my right toe–evidence that I’ve made a good weight transfer from my right side to my left. The fact that my right forearm has rotated over my left indicates that I’ve released the club naturally through impact and played a right-to-left shot. When I want to hit a fade, I delay the release a fraction of a second to keep the face slightly open through the hitting area.

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About Jill Painter

Jill Painter is a sports columnist for the Los Angeles News Group, covering everything from the Dodgers, Lakers, Clippers, USC, UCLA, Kings, golf and all human interest stories in sports.