Gary Player not optimistic about Tiger Woods due to the yips ('the cancer of golf')

Gary Player not optimistic about Tiger Woods due to the yips ('the cancer of golf')

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Gary Player not optimistic about Tiger Woods due to the yips ('the cancer of golf')

Tiger Woods recently flamed out badly in Dubai, opening the Omega Dubai Desert Classic in birdie-free 77 and then withdrawing due to a back spasm. Just two weeks into his comeback to (official) competitive golf, some are already theorizing that the end is rapidly nearing.

Woods has dealt with some major injury issues in recent years – two back surgeries precipitated a 16-month layoff – and some psychological hurdles, specifically a case of the chipping yips that emerged in late 2014/early 2015. And yes, not playing competitive golf for over a year means it’ll take a little time for the performance to come back.

But this may be the most talented player of all time. What is really plaguing the 41-year-old?

According to golfing legend Gary Player, the yips may never truly leave Woods, making the long-term prognosis grim.

In an interview with Gulf News, the nine-time major champion was frank on Woods’ situation.

What’s most caught the South African’s eye is still that chipping yips display from years ago.

“The thing that concerns me about Tiger’s comeback, which nobody is saying much about, is when he was playing a little while ago, he had the yips very badly with the chipping,” Player told Gulf News. “He was hitting a chip shot in front of him or hitting it over the green. I am so used to seeing him having a chip and he puts the ball two feet from the hole.

“To see him chipping the way he does, there’s no way he can win. No way at all.”

Why’s Player still caught up on something from a couple of years ago, when those chip yips haven’t seemed to resurface since?

As the South African noted, the yips are not something to be underestimated. Player didn’t outright state Woods is still suffering from the yips, but he did note that once they start with a player, they really never go away – and that’s often deadly to a golfer’s career.

“A man called Henry Longhurst, the greatest TV announcer that ever lived, said something interesting: ‘When you get the yips, you die with the yips.’ Very few people recover from the yips,” Player said.

“The yips is a destroyer; it’s the cancer of golf. Everybody I know got it. Only Jack Nicklaus and I didn’t and I don’t know why. I can’t explain it.”

Just for good measure, Player added that Woods has separate problems that stem back nearly two decades and feels the 14-time major champion would have all of golf’s records if he hadn’t been so stubborn to change.

“If he’d never have had another lesson after winning the (2000) U.S. Open by 15 shots, I firmly believe he would have gone on and broken every conceivable record in the game,” Player said.

It’s certainly tough times for Tiger. He does have his fans, of course, but becoming golf’s most dominant figure (or one of its most dominant) will take much more than that support.

Player may be rooting for Woods to get back up there, but the mountain may be too tough to climb.

“I don’t think he’ll win another major, but I sincerely hope he does,” Player said. “Nothing would give me a greater thrill than Tiger winning another major, but it’s an awfully big task. He has a monumental challenge ahead.”

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