Thursday, March 15, 2012

Is Tiger Unafraid To Use The Driver?

Many readers enjoyed my post ‘Anatomy of a 62’, delving into Tiger’s magnificent final round at the Honda Classic.

But, one thing I have been asked and I’ve read about is the accusation that Tiger is taking a lot more fairway woods and irons off the tee than normal. Well, the attempts per round from the Birdie Zone, Safe Zone and Danger Zone do not show anything out of the ordinary.

However, in the post of ‘Anatomy of a 62’ people noted how much shorter some of Tiger’s drives were than they thought and stuck to the story of ‘he’s using more fairway woods and irons off the tee.’

Granted, that’s exactly what Tiger did in the 4th round of the PGA Championship against YE Yang. He had ZERO confidence in his driver and I think he used it all of 3 times in the final round, and only once finding the fairway. This created a problem for Tiger because even though his Danger Zone and ‘long’ Safe Zone play was fantastic at the time (and he did hit them well for the entire round), he was competing against Yang who was now having shots up to 70 yards closer to the hole. Even Ben Hogan would have a hard time competing with that.

I wanted to make sure that Tiger wasn’t ‘cheating the Advanced Total Driving System’, so I went into his 3rd round at this weekend’s WGC Tournament at Doral. I didn’t want to compare the 4th round because he got hurt and only played 12 holes. I also wanted to compare him versus Bubba Watson to better gauge.

So why Bubba?

Mark Wilson’s caddy told The Golf Channel that the amazing thing with regards to Bubba is he almost never leaves the driver in the bag on a par-4 or par-5. Not only is Bubba long (longest on Tour), but he’s not using irons, hybrids or a 3-wood off the tee. I think it’s a good way to gauge what Tiger is doing.

So, here’s a look at the 3rd round, where Bubba played well and Tiger had a decent day. Tiger’s distances are off the tee are in (parentheses)

#1 - 327 yards (338)
#2 - 259 yards (339)
#3 - 290 yards (303)
#5 - 271 yards (249)
#6 - 291 yards (304)
#8 - 309 yards (292)
#10 - 259 yards (259)
#11 - 284 yards (250)
#12 - 324 yards (292)
#14 - 351 yards (323)
#16 - 317 yards (306)
#17 - 315 yards (288)
#18 - 289 yards (307)

So, Tiger out-drove Bubba on 5 different holes (1, 2, 3, 6 and 18).

They drove it the same distance on #10.

It appears that Tiger did indeed lay-up on #11. We could probably cancel that one out. Same with #5 where both probably laid up. Bubba may have used a very soft driver.

Bubba ‘bested’ Tiger on #8, #12, #14, #16 and #17.

However, it appears to be easy to see that the wind was somewhat in the player’s face on the front 9 and then it was a tail-wind on the back 9. That’s probably why Tiger hit most of his drives further than Bubba on the front because Tiger hits it lower. But on the back-9 Bubba could hit it sky-high and watch the wind take it.

Still, it indicates that Tiger is unafraid to use the driver on the course and while he doesn’t hit it as long as he used to, he’s still one of the longest players on Tour. He’s currently been measured at 119.2 mph clubhead speed, 9th fastest on Tour.


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