I had this idea Friday to write another post in a continuing series about Tour players’ awareness of their golf swings. Once again, not to pick on them, but to illustrate how difficult this is even for the very best among us.
It came out of the disheartening news that Mike Weir, who I wrote about the last two days, was forced to withdraw from the Canadian Open due to an elbow injury. I was going to make the point that losing your sense of your swing frequently leads to injury because of the inefficiencies we add when they are out of synch. The mind is trying to get swing to do something, but the body instinctively knows the proper path and we end up feeling like we’re fighting our swings. It’s because we are.
And then I came across this post by Ron Sirak in Golf Digest Woman on Paula Creamer having fought back from a dreadful stretch with her putting. Once one of the best putters on the LPGA Tour, she was lost in the wilderness. But in this nice profile, she talks about the heavy lifting she’s doing to get back:
Asked what she has been doing to turn her putting around, Creamer said: “Practice. I’ve just been grinding, working with [caddie] Colin [Cann] and [coach] David [Whelan]. I’ve always thought of myself as a pretty good putter. It’s just that sometimes the hole does look like it is four and a half inches.”
She shot 67 Friday at the Evian Masters in Evian-les-Bains, France, and is just two strokes back of the leader, Japan’s Miki Saiki. (By the way, it was announced this week that the Evian Masters Golf Course will be lengthened and beefed up and the tournament will become the LPGA Tour’s 5th major in 2013. It’s a nice reward for a longtime sponsor of the event, and a very nice embellishment for an increasingly international tour.)
And then I flashed on the news that Michelle Wie, also playing in France this week, is now trying to putt with a long putter, having abandoned what appeared to have been a very productive relationship with putting guru, Dave Stockton. Never a great putter, she had gotten to the point where she was predictably reliable. And my point was going to be that Michelle has lost touch with her putting stroke. It’s hard to get quality practice reps in when you’re trying to study for finals at Stanford. Hopefully she won’t stray too much further afield and she can learn from Creamer how to get it back. She missed the cut by 4.
And that got me to thinking about how Tiger’s putting has eroded since all of his troubles and injury timeouts begun. There was once a time that if your head was in a guillotine and you had to pick one guy to make a six-footer to save your life, you would scream at the top of your lungs, “Get me Tiger!” No more. He’s where Creamer was and Michelle Wie still is. But then we haven’t seen him back in seasoned tournament mode in it seems like forever.
And so my head full of all of these conversations about golf consciousness, I was watching marquee player after marquee player at the Canadian Open shelling one drive after another into the deep rough off their first tee. And I’m talking about guys like Casey, Fowler, Schwatzel, Els and Anthony Kim, to name a few. And as I was fashioning this post on consciousness in my mind, the announcers mentioned that Tiger was now outside the top 125 in FedEx Cup race. Whoa! How did that happen? They said that he was at 129 with just five tournaments to go before the playoffs begin. And I was jolted. Just five tournaments left?
I couldn’t believe that the regular season is almost over. How could it be almost over? It just started! Talk about being unconscious. After this week’s Canadian Open, here’s what’s left:
The Greenbriar in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia
Reno-Tahoe in Reno, Nevada
WGC – Bridgestone at Firestone in Akron, Ohio
The PGA Championship at the Atlanta Athletic Club in Johns Creek (Atlanta), Georgia
The Wyndham in Greensboro, North Carolina
And that’s it. And with Tiger not having entered the Greenbriar by Friday’s 5 PM (ET) deadline, he’s now down to just four tournaments to get into the playoffs. If he can get healthy and competitive (and find a caddie) for Firestone and the PGA, it shouldn’t be a problem to get inside the 125. But once he gets to the four playoff tournaments with $8 million purses and a shrinking field size each week, he’ll have a tough time keeping up if he gets too far behind as he did last year.
Here are those big four playoff tournaments:
The Barclay’s at Plainfield Country Club in Edison, New Jersey
Deutsche Bank at the TPC Boston
BMW at Cog Hill in Chicago
The Tour Championship at East Lake in Atlanta
So you too are now up to date on the home stretch of the Tour’s regular season.
But there is a larger lesson in my having drawn an absolute blank on all of this: don’t let this happen to you! Do not fall asleep while you’re thinking about consciousness! It’s just too ironic and your friends will make fun of you.
This warning brought to you as a public service.