Tiger Woods' woes continue at Torrey
SAN DIEGO -- It was not a setback, he said, but certainly this was a disappointment for Tiger Woods.
When you return to a place where you've had so much success, and then post your worst finish while shooting two of your highest scores over 12 years at a course you've owned, there is no way to spin it.
A 74-75 weekend at Torrey Pines was not what Woods had in mind in terms of putting the difficulties of 2010 in the rearview mirror and speeding into the future.
He had won his past five starts here, including his dramatic playoff win over Rocco Mediate at the 2008 U.S. Open. In 11 previous appearances in what is now called the Farmers Insurance Open, he had shot but one round over par.
Two in two days suggests there is more work to do.
"Absolutely, absolutely," Woods said afterward, when asked if he had high hopes coming into his season opener after some promising signs at the end of 2010.
"I started out hitting it pretty good out here this week. I really did. And it progressively got worse.
"We have some things that we need to work on," Woods said. "Sean [Foley, his swing instructor] and I have been talking about it every night. I can do it on the range, but it's a little different when I've got to bring it out here and I've got to shape shots. I've got to hit the ball with the right trajectory ... I've got some work to do, which is good."
And it's fair to say Woods can work on all aspects. Nothing is particularly strong at the moment, including his usually stellar short game. He's not hitting enough fairways, and when he misses greens, his uncanny ability to get up and down is not the same.
Woods admitted that he is trying to incorporate many of Foley's swing ideas in his short game, and that is taking time, too.
"It's a completely different release," he said. "That release that you want to have for the good shots and full swings are the same and even the putting stroke. The putting stroke is the smallest swing there is.
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"Everything should be the same throughout the golf bag. That's where I was with all my other teachers, and that's what I'm trying to do here."
It is certainly more complicated, more technical, in Tiger's world. But even the average golfer can relate to the difficulty of bringing it from the driving range to the golf course.
Simply put, that is what Woods is enduring now. He hits it great at home, can't do it on the course -- or, more specifically, in the heat of competition.
He has played 47 rounds at Torrey Pines over the course of 12 PGA Tour events here and had but one round over par until this weekend.
And so it would seem that Woods could use a little more tournament action to try and get used to things in the heat of competition.
Getting it dialed in on the range, going low at Isleworth in Orlando, is one thing. Doing it out here, apparently, is still to come.
The next opportunity will come in two weeks when Woods heads to the Middle East to play the Dubai Desert Classic, the European Tour event that is opposite the PGA Tour's AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.
After that, Woods has not committed to anything, and smiled when asked about when he would play again.
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"In the future," he said.
We can probably expect the same schedule of years past: the WGC-Accenture Match Play, WGC-Cadillac Championship at Doral, Arnold Palmer Invitational.
That means he's got only four more tournaments to get things sorted out before the Masters, unless he surprises us and throws another tournament into the schedule.
In the meantime, it's back to the range, where Woods has twice previously in his career retreated, getting worse in order to get better -- and both times emerging with runs of greatness.
After changing his swing with Butch Harmon, Woods won 7 of 11 majors from 1999 through 2002. After doing it again under Hank Haney, he won 6 of 14 majors from 2005 through 2008.
"It's a commitment to change and moving forward," Woods said. "I got committed to what I'm doing and I'm not looking back. I'm moving forward. And that's what I have to do, and that's what I'm doing."
Bob Harig covers golf for ESPN.com. He can be reached at BobHarig@gmail.com.
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