Witness: Butch Harmon Woods's coach

Dec. 18, 2000
Dec. 18, 2000

Table of Contents
Dec. 18, 2000

Sportsman Of The Year

Witness: Butch Harmon Woods's coach

EVENT: AT&T Pebble Beach (Calif.) National Pro-Am
DATE: Feb. 7

This is an article from the Dec. 18, 2000 issue Original Layout

"When Tiger first started playing in the Masters, he was still a
teenager. He'd play practice rounds with some of the greatest
figures in the game--Arnold and Jack, Nick Faldo, Greg
Norman--and he'd say, 'I hit a wedge into 15. Those guys were
hitting, like, five-irons.' Of course, the real question is,
Whose shot finished closer to the hole?

"When you're hitting your short clubs really hard, it's difficult
to control distance, and it's almost impossible to control how
much the ball spins back. Even though he won the Masters in '97,
he knew he had to get much better at controlling the distance of
his short irons. So we rebuilt his swing. The last piece of that
was what we call the dead-arms shot. When you hit it, there's not
a lot of wrist cock, you don't release your hands, and your arms
go through the ball almost sluggishly so that the shot goes
shorter. It also goes lower so the wind doesn't hit it as much,
and it has no spin. The ball stops practically where it lands.

"In the latter half of '99 Tiger had been working hard on that
shot. One thing that makes Tiger Tiger is that he's more willing
to bring a shot from the practice tee onto the course than any
golfer I know. He was looking for the place to play that shot
under pressure.

"By the time he got to 15 in the last round of the AT&T, he was
still four shots back. But you can never count him out. He killed
his drive and had 97 yards to the hole. The flag is in the back
right of the green, up on a little shelf, very hard to get at.
I'm standing with the gallery thinking, This is the time. He's
got a 60-degree lob wedge and he can step on that and hit it 100
yards, but that would spin right off the green. Not the shot. His
regular full 56-degree sand wedge goes 100 yards comfortably.
That'd be fine for hitting it on the green, somewhere in two-putt
range, but you couldn't keep it on that back shelf because of the
spin. If he's going to stiff it, he needs to dead-arm it with a
pitching wedge.

"I see Tiger pull a club and I know right away it's the pitching
wedge because the lob wedge and the sand wedge have no chrome on
them and the club in his hands is shiny. I'm thinking, He's
playing the right shot. Now let's see him pull it off. Remember,
his normal pitching wedge goes 125 to 130 yards.

"He makes a great little controlled swing, and the ball lands
about three feet right of the flag and spins down the hill and
into the hole. He pumps his fist and screams, 'Yeah!' I pump my
fist and scream, 'Yes!' Eagle. Then he stiffs a shot on 16 and
makes birdie there, then closes with a birdie on 18 and wins by

"To hit that shot on 15 exactly the way you want to, you've got
to be really talented. To have the ball go in the hole, you've
got to be really blessed. He is both."


Tiger's worst finish of the season, at the Western Open.

Number of top three finishes by Woods. Ernie Els was next best
with eight.