Lack of satisfaction is secret to Woods' success
Tiger Woods won for the fifth time in his past six starts on Sunday. His response? "I still have holes in my game that I need to fix." And therein lies the secret to Woods' success.
Before making his first start of the season, Tiger Woods surmised that his chances of winning this year's Grand Slam are "easily within reason."Although most focused on the final two words of that phrase, perhaps we should have been paying more attention to the first word. Easily. If he continues playing as he did at the Buick Invitational this week, winning by eight strokes, many things will come easy for Woods this season. The Weekly 18 begins with a look into the secret for his success.
"Yesterday was terrible. I drove it like a dog yesterday. I was disappointed the way I drove it today because I haven't been driving it like that. Whether it was 5-wood, 3-wood or driver, I didn't drive it very good at all. I had a low left ball or a spinny high right. Kind of hard to aim when you've got both of those things going. I just overshaped them. It was pretty embarrassing. I hit a terrible tee shot over to the right."I was really surprised at some of the shots I hit off the tees because I haven't been doing that. I just have to hit the ball better than I'm hitting it right now. I actually had a mis-hit and ended up OK. Bladed my second one trying to keep it underneath the tree. It had a little happy face on it. "I didn't have the speed of the greens early, kept running them by I missed a short one at the second hole. "Five was just a terrible shot. I laid the shaft down, got stuck, flipped it over there, hit it real short. Six, I was trying to hit the ball short right of the hole, but not that short. Seven, wind knocked it down. I thought I hit the ball middle of the green. I was just trying to play middle of the green. Just don't hit it over the green, and it came up well short. And then eight, I chickened out on it because I was hitting a big hook, and I was thinking, 'Well, if this ball lands, it's going to be ripping across the green. Just don't hit it long.' I hit it short of the green. On 15, I was trying to hit kind of a low cut, and to be honest with you, I hit it a little bit off the toe and hit kind of a low draw. "I've gotten some pretty good breaks the past couple days, some pretty good lies in the rough I got a lucky break, and it stayed up. I got a couple of good bounces on the greens. " Based on Woods' words -- and yes, these are all quotes from his truly this past week -- you'd get the feeling he had been shanking it around Torrey Pines like an 18-handicapper, not winning in dominant fashion. He might not be an eternal pessimist, but the five bogeys Woods carded this week (four of which came on Sunday) will stick in his craw longer than the 24 birdies will leave him smiling. He'll be able to see some clouds peeking through that great big silver lining. He might be happy with his most recent victory, but he won't be satisfied. And therein lies the secret to Tiger's success.
Buick Invitational Leaderboard
1. Woods (-19)
2. Imada (-11)
T-3. Sabbatini (-9)
T-3. Cink (-9)
5. Leonard (-7)
"I wanted to go out there and make no bogeys and shoot something under par," Woods told CBS after immediately walking off the course with a final-round 71. "Well, I got half of it right."Make no mistake, after flying 20 hours to compete in this week's Dubai Desert Classic, he will continue working on his game, striving for better results from every shot. Although his peers look at Woods' game and see an unbeatable, dominant presence, the game's top-ranked player views himself as a work in progress, never quite reaching the level of perfection others allow him. Should any other player procure an eight-shot PGA Tour victory, it would take a crowbar to pry the smile from his face. Copies of all four rounds would find a permanent place in the home DVD player, and thoughts of the win would dance in the mind for the remainder of the season. Not so for Woods, of course. With a straight face, he declared Sunday, "I still have holes in my game that I need to fix and need to improve on. I just think that what I've been working on, I'm headed in the right direction." Yes, he's headed in the right direction. And if he ever fixes those holes and improves what he's working on, well, maybe -- just maybe -- Woods someday will be satisfied with his own performance.
|Tiger Woods' Past Six Appearances|
|2008 Buick Invitational||Win|
|2007 Tour Championship||Win|
|2007 BMW Championship||Win|
|2007 Deutsche Bank Championship||T-2|
|2007 PGA Championship||Win|
|2007 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational||Win|
- Q: Does he get under your skin a bit?
RORY SABBATINI: No.
Q: You've just had some interesting remarks in the past about him.
RORY SABBATINI: No.
- "I wasn't even expecting to play, so I have nothing to lose this week.
I'm going to put my best out there and see what happens."
- "Thursday morning when I was waiting on the putting green, I kept my head down, was hitting some putts into this cup, and looked up and boom, he was right there in front of me. I was kind of awestruck for a second, and I said, 'Wow, I guess I am on the PGA Tour.' It was pretty cool."
- "Man, that was one of the coolest things ever, no doubt about it. He was fun to watch but just kind of fun to compare myself against him, as well. It's inspiring and very educational. I recommend everyone try it at least one time."
- "I will be there [Monday] and don't expect too much, but sometimes that's when you play your best. I'll give it my best shot. If not, it'll be a good week off, and I have three big weeks coming up after that."
- "I played the Merrill Lynch Shootout this year with Anthony Kim as my partner.
Everybody asks, 'Who's the next young player to come along? Who's the next talented young player?' I see a lot of talented young players. Nothing really kind of jumped out at me until I played with this kid. I played with Anthony for three rounds there in Naples, and I was blown away.
I think Tiger's mental game was probably stronger [at a similar age]. I think actual technique-wise, swing-wise, I reckon Anthony's swing is better at 21 or 22 than what Tiger's was."
- "I'm going to play Houston this year before the Masters. The tournament director came up to me last year and said, 'You know, I just wanted you to know we're really making an effort to have the golf course match up to the Masters. We're going to have the rough the same height, green speed the same, practice facilities to accommodate.' And I thought that was really cool, and it provides a great spot to get ready for the Masters, so I'll end up playing there, which I haven't done in the past."
- "Finally broke through for his first career Nationwide Tour victory at the WNB Golf Classic in October, but only one other top-10 suggests he may struggle on the big tour."
- "Two weeks before Q-school, I was talking with Brad outside my bagel deli. The man told me exactly what he had to do and went out and kicked tuchas. The kid is playing with a lot of confidence and will not be intimidated.
P.S. If he doesn't finish top-125, you get a free whitefish and nova platter.
- My goal is to make the PGA or Nationwide Tour within a year. I realize this is a bold statement coming from a 25-year-old who was a 22-handicapper five months ago, but after working on my game every day, I am now consistently breaking 80. In addition, to further shave my index down and get much needed tournament experience, I am relocating to Thailand on Feb. 7, where stroke and match play events are held six times per week through the International Pattaya Golf Club.
Jason Sobel is ESPN.com's golf editor. He can be reached at Jason.Sobel@espn3.com.