US Open: Why Tiger Woods can still win majors despite problems

BBC Sport examines why this man the greatest player ever is apparently out of favour in the United States The other day Tiger Woods had a visit from a special guest It was comedian…

US Open: Why Tiger Woods can still win majors despite problems

BBC Sport examines why this man the greatest player ever is apparently out of favour in the United States

The other day Tiger Woods had a visit from a special guest

It was comedian Kevin Hart, a close friend of his, who had Woods burst into laughter by congratulating him on his successful China and Oceania swing-off against playing partner Anirban Lahiri.

It was only in the weeks before his comeback to the golf circuit that Hart, the star of Ride Along and Central Intelligence, had revealed he had researched to find out why Woods is still not being taken seriously as a serious contender to win the US Open, despite changing swing coaches, changing set-ups and playing what can only be described as “Tiger Woods golf”.

“He is maybe the greatest player in the history of the game but he’s a nobody in America,” said Hart.

The Hollywood actor had recently made the mistake of revealing that he was a closet golf fan.

Hart likened golf to tennis, saying he “hates” watching it, and disliked the “rigidness and length of the course”.

Kevin Hart (second left) congratulates Tiger Woods on his swing against Anirban Lahiri

Woods has suffered with his physique in recent years and found switching his swing coach too much for him to accept.

But Hart was right to find out why he has not won a US Open, which goes by the name of the “fifth major” in America.

After all, Wood’s old swing partner Butch Harmon, now the head coach of Justin Thomas, discovered one key ingredient which could change it all.

It is called “ball control”.

Many players have success at adapting to a new swing set-up.

But there is more to the swing than that.

“Ball control is a lie; if your ball doesn’t stop moving then you are not a ball striker,” Woods told Golf Digest.

Tiger Woods could become the youngest player to hit over 30 million career wins on Sunday

Greatest player of all time?

In December of 2015, Woods was the world number one and playing what was – at that time – the most important tournament of his career, the season-ending Tour Championship in Atlanta.

His biggest problem was in his short game.

“I got to the point in this game where I had a golf ball and my mind, all I did was walk on it, no hitting my hips,” explained Woods.

And so from that moment, everything changed.

The next year, Woods lost the Tour Championship and failed to complete a modern-day Grand Slam by missing the cut at the Masters.

In 2016, however, he rediscovered his game and set four records.

He won the year-end tournament again in only his fourth appearance, won the PGA Championship by eight shots and finally reached the top spot in world rankings for the first time since 2008.

This year, however, he has struggled to a 17th place place at the Australian Open, and lost to Lahiri in a week of golfing smiles and applause in Shanghai.

Significantly, his last victory came at the Bridgestone Invitational in August of 2015.

For all of his success, there are many who claim Woods is not yet the greatest golfer ever.

Most recent Grand Slam wins 1999 Masters, 2002 US Open, 2005 British Open, 2006 PGA Championship, 2007 US PGA Championship, 2008 Open Championship, 2014 US PGA Championship

Speaking on BBC Radio 5 live’s The Golf Show shortly after he finished his US swing changes and signed the new Nike golf ball, there was no obvious reason why.

Of the man who has won 14 major titles (tied with Jack Nicklaus), his record does not indicate a return to dominance.

Although there have been lows, and the injuries from which he has been ill for much of his career have robbed him of memories that others share, the bright side is that he still looks around the course and sees young players in awe.

For so long he has been able to ignore his technical issues and focus on simply having the best swing.

Having an engineer report that all the other players have that means Tiger is now overdue a breakthrough.

Once his body is healed, he will no doubt dominate again like he once did, but he will be playing golf underlining the fact that he can still dominate under normal circumstances.

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