The golf world has been in a tizzy over Tiger Woods' short-game issues since he started mishitting chips in droves two months ago.
Many think he has the chipping yips, and even those who are reluctant to use the word "yips" think this is a major problem that will take time to fix.
The Golf Channel's Brandel Chamblee — who said he had never seen a pro as bad as Tiger around the greens earlier this year — said before the Masters that it was "unimaginable" that Tiger could have fixed his chipping issues in eight weeks.
Hank Haney, Tiger's former coach, said: "When you have the yips, you have issues. This isn't going away. This isn't just a turn of the switch."
Phil Mickelson doesn't agree. Adding to the sense of optimism around Tiger at Augusta this week, Phil said on Tuesday that a player's short game was actually the easiest thing to fix and that Tiger would be fine.
"He hit a few good chips, he hit them close, all of a sudden your confidence is back," Mickelson said. "It's just not that hard of a thing to get right."
Here's his full explanation, which should only fuel the "Tiger is back" hype:
But I do believe that the easiest fix is short game. I think that's the easiest thing to fix, and so his short game has always been astoundingly good. He's won numerous tournaments because of his short game. I just don't think it's a hard thing to get back. He hit a few good chips, he hit them close, all of a sudden your confidence is back. It's just not that hard of a thing to get right. Whereas when your golf swing goes south and the ball is flying everywhere, that could take a little while.
He seems to be striking the ball very well. He played in front of me today, and I saw him hit some shots and it looked impressive. His speed is up, the ball is flying long and straight, and it looks like he's swinging free without any type of manipulation. It looks really good.
Bullish stuff from Lefty!
The first thing Tiger did when he got to Augusta this week was hit the practice chipping area. His chips were perfectly fine, by all accounts. He even listened to music (a 300-song hip-hop playlist, he says) while practicing:
We won't know whether Phil is right until Tiger tees off on Thursday, but for now there is reason for optimism.
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