Tidbits from Tiger Woods

Here is the monthly newsletter that Tiger Woods writes for his Web site, Tigerwoods.com.
Woods talks about how, since 2000, he’s playing fewer events on tougher courses against the best fields and winning more. Interesting stuff. He also talks about seeing his ”Gatorade Tiger” in a store for the first time and slow play on the PGA Tour, among other things. Worth a read.

February 28, 2008
By Tiger Woods

I’m very excited about the way my year has begun. Three wins in three starts was just what I had in mind, but you never know. There’s a lot of luck involved, and I certainly had my share last week in the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship.

I’ve always said, the format is very fickle, and I could have been headed home on Wednesday when I was 3-down with five holes left against J.B. Holmes. Each match is so different in its own way. I didn’t play well against J.B. until the 14th hole, but somehow I managed to pull out the win. I played my best against Aaron Baddeley and still almost lost. That’s match play.

For a while now I’ve said my game has improved since 2000, and it’s not just about the W’s. It’s something I’ve been saying internally and until recently, no one picked up on it. In 2000, I played in 20 PGA Tour events and won nine times. In 2005, I played in 15 tournaments and won eight times, and last year I played in 16 and won seven. The point is, I’m playing in fewer events on the toughest courses against the best fields. That’s why I feel my game has progressed and why I feel so good about all the hard work I have put in.

I have been asked whether I think I can go undefeated this year. I pointed out that when I was 11, I went 36-0, so I’ve already had a perfect season. Is it realistic? No. But why would you go to a tournament if you don’t think you can win? That’s my expectation of myself. That’s the way I think and how I’ve always played golf.

One thing I’m very pleased about this year is my short game, especially my chipping and bunker play. At times, they were a weakness last year and I worked hard on both areas during the off-season.

I think one of the reasons I have struggled with my chipping is because I hit so many greens in regulation, when I miss one, I’m out of rhythm and not as sharp as I should be. It’s just one of those things when you have time to practice, you get better. I worked so much on my swing, it cost my short game and putting. Now, I feel a lot more comfortable with both.

On Monday, I flew to North Carolina to check on the new course I’m designing: The Cliffs at High Carolina near Asheville. I spent another day walking the property and made a few more tweaks to the routing plan. It’s a wonderful site and we’re right on schedule for a 2010 Opening.

On Tuesday, Fred Couples was named captain of the U.S. Presidents Cup Team for 2009. I think it’s great for Fred and great for us. People don’t realize how fiery this guy is. He’s as fiery as they come and I can’t wait to play for him. I’m going to miss Jack (Nicklaus). I loved playing for him, but he decided it was time to have someone more contemporary. Freddie knows how the players think and what we want, and I think he’ll do an incredible job.

I’m also thrilled to report that VAN HALEN will play at Tiger Jam XI, April 19 at The Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas. I’ve already seen him play twice in concert this year and he and the boys put on amazing shows. The energy that they generate is just incredible. Tickets are now on sale and proceeds benefit the Tiger Woods Foundation and select Las Vegas-based charities. Visit tigerjam.com for more information.

When I was in Tucson last week, I did a little shopping and noticed my new “Gatorade Tiger” in a store. Must admit it was pretty cool and weird; first my own video game, and now a sports drink. A lot of personal time went into the creation of this product and I am proud of all three of the initial flavors we have created, especially Red Drive.

Before I go, I would like to talk about slow play. It’s been an ongoing problem on the PGA Tour for a long time. I honestly believe the pace of play is faster in Europe and Japan. It has been suggested offenders be penalized with strokes. The problem is, you may get one guy that slows down a group for playing at a snails pace and gets them all put on the clock, which isn’t fair. I know this is a complicated issue. Hopefully it can be addressed in the near future.

Talk to you next month.

Tiger

TIGER’S TIP

By Tiger Woods, Golf Digest Playing Editor, Edited By Pete McDaniel and Mark Soltau

Try my bunker blast

My technique in the sand will lower your scores

The biggest mistake I see amateurs make on greenside bunker shots is failing to properly use the bounce on the sand wedge. They tend to dig the leading edge of the club into the sand, just the opposite of the splashing action better players make.

I’m a bit of a traditionalist when it comes to bunker play. Some players and teachers today advocate a shallow cut through the sand, but I swing the club more vertical than normal going back to allow for a similar entry into the sand behind the ball. I do that by hinging my wrists early.

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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.