Hate to be Rude: Woods stuck in the 'process'

Tiger Woods during Day 2 of the Tavistock Cup.

Tiger Woods during Day 2 of the Tavistock Cup.

WINDERMERE, Fla. – And now yet another word about the famous "process."

Tiger Woods, of course, has been overhauling his swing since last summer under the guidance of instructor Sean Foley. He has done so with mostly undesirable results in competition, though he did close with a 66 Sunday at Doral.

Woods has said repeatedly that the “process” will take time. To gain perspective and get an idea of how long, your correspondent quizzed Justin Rose and Sean O’Hair on Tuesday at the Tavistock Cup at Isleworth Country Club. The two men, both students of David Leadbetter as youths, have undergone major swing changes with Foley over the past three years.

Rose said it took him a year before the new motions became second nature and comfortable under tournament pressure. Rose started with Foley in the summer of 2009. A year later, he sandwiched victories at the Memorial and AT&T National around a tie for ninth at the Travelers, where he opened 64-62 before falling back with a Sunday 75.

“I had the moves, feels and concepts down pretty quickly on the range,” said Rose, eighth in scoring average last year. “But it takes time for it to get into the circuitry of your brain and wraps and wraps so you do it under pressure.”

Rose said he underwent his swing change in three phases, one at a time: backswing, downswing, follow-through. Almost two years later, he’s still on the final part.

“Now I’m going through the process of learning to swing left,” Rose said.

Asked what advice he’d give Woods, Rose said, “Stick with it, be patient and don’t take your eye off your short game.”

Like Woods, Rose altered his short game to incorporate Foley’s motions and reports, “It’s still not 100 percent comfortable.”

Woods, of course, has had more than swing problems since news of his serial adultery broke in late 2009. He since has gone through rehabilitation and a divorce.

“I think we’re all pretty naive if we think it’s just about the golf game for Tiger,” Rose said. “You need all aspects of your life in order.”

O’Hair started with Foley right after the 2008 British Open and immediately tied for third in the RBS Canadian Open. The next year, he won the Quail Hollow Championship, had six top-5 finishes and nine top 10s and made the Presidents Cup team.

“It took a while for it to become second nature, but the results were immediate for me,” O’Hair said. “It depends on the person.”

O’Hair started using more leg action and brought his left arm lower, across his chest, on the backswing. He did most of his changing with heavy practice after the 2008 season.

O’Hair played with Woods on Tuesday at the Tavistock Cup and said, “I think he’s definitely improving. He’s heading in the right direction. His positions were good today. I think it’s a matter of getting the sequence down. It just takes time. It’s a big change from what he was doing. But I think you’ll definitely see results sooner than later.”

Tuesday on his home course, Woods shot 3-under-par 69, the sixth best score of the 24 players.

“It’s coming along,” he said afterward. “I’m starting to enjoy it. Now it’s just a matter of getting my game to come around a little more.”

• • • 

Ian Poulter and Lawrence Donegan of the Guardian engaged in an entertaining Twitter sword fight over the Tavistock Cup, the annual team event in an opulent gated community.

After Donegan tweeted the Tavistock was the “worst tournament ever,” Poulter, a regular participant in recent years, went off with this tweet (pardon the punctuation):

“Why is is the worst tournament ever. you now need to explain yourself. cos thats bollocks. Name another country club competition in the world that can boast these fields and raise huge money for charity. Oh there isn’t… You’ve gone all quiet Lawrence speak up.”

After he shot 68 Tuesday in the Tavistock final round, Poulter sounded off again in defense of the two-day interclub event.

“More than $6 million in charity has been given out over eight years, so how can anyone say this isn’t a great event?” Poulter said from behind Isleworth’s 18th green. “Yes, it’s a closed shop (for sponsors, residents and members). You can’t buy tickets. But since $5.5 million has gone to charity before this year, how can I not defend it?

“True, it’s not normal. Nothing Joe Lewis (main investor in Tavistock Group, which owns more than 175 companies in 15 countries) does is normal. It’s kind of a private show, but that’s fine. Ask any of the charities if it’s a joke.

“Anyone who takes offense to Joe Lewis is a complete muppet. Look how much he has given to charity over the years. It’s an awful, awful lot. He’s probably one of the most generous people I’ve met in my life.”

• • •

How much teasing was there between the players?

“Our games got in the way of the needling,” Woods said. “There was some serious needling. Everybody brought their A game.”

• • • 

The sight of Woods’ macho caddie Steve Williams in a pink bib prompted thoughts of playful jabbing. I’m surprised Williams didn’t take the bib off on the first green instead of the 18th green, as usual.

A male spectator couldn’t resist during a wait on the seventh hole. “Steve, you look good in pink,” the man said.

Williams, half smiling, replied, “If there weren’t all these females around, you know what words I’d be giving you.”

Just guessing the words wouldn’t have been, “Thanks, mate.”

• • •

For what it’s worth, Lake Nona won the two-day competition by a landslide with a 43-under-par total after Monday best ball and Tuesday individual medal. Oliver Wilson led Nona and won the individual prize with a 7-under 65, one ahead of Robert Allenby (Isleworth), two up on Adam Scott (Queenwood) and three ahead of Henrik Stenson (Lake Nona) and Poulter (Albany).

Lake Nona won by 16 strokes over Albany, even though former Nona team members Ernie Els, Justin Rose, Trevor Immelman and Poulter played for other teams. The event was expanded to include the posh developments of Albany (Bahamas) and Queenwood (England) this year.

“So Lake Nona missed you guys?” Poulter was asked.

“Yeah,” he said, “like a hole in the head.”

• • • 

By the way, Wilson, 2008 Ryder Cupper, said this was his first victory since turning professional in 2003. The PGA European Tour member won several times in college at Augusta State but hadn’t won anywhere since.

“I guess you have to start somewhere,” Wilson said after an eagle-birdie finish. “This isn’t a bad place to start. This is a tough one. It’d be nice if this one counted on the Order of Merit and World Ranking points, but it doesn’t. It still brings a lot of confidence for me. I had a bad year last year and done some great work with my golf swing the last few weeks. I’m feeling positive.”

• • • 

If you haven’t seen CBS funnyman David Feherty lately, get ready to do a double take. The 5-10 Feherty has lost about 65 pounds since undergoing gastric-sleeve weight-loss surgery last April and is down to 170.

He said he underwent the operation because he was tired of weight fluctuation. The result is his body looks more like Sean O’Hair’s than Darren Clarke’s.

• • • 

Jeff Rude’s “I Hate To Be Rude” column appears on Golfweek.com on Wednesday, the same day as his video show of the same name.

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