Tiger on track heading to U.S. Open
And what did he figure out since his last three tournaments?
After his last three starts on the PGA Tour, Tiger Woods' form was anything but Tiger-like. Now the former world No. 1 jumps to No. 4 in the latest world rankings -- the highest of any American.
So with Woods' next start the 2012 U.S. Open, what lies ahead? Our experts dive in head first in our latest edition of Monday Four-Ball.
1. What did Tiger do this weekend that he wasn't doing in his last three starts (T-40 at Masters, MC at Wells Fargo, T-40 at Players Championship)?
Mike and Mike in the Morning
Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic react to Tiger Woods' victory at the Memorial. Should more consistency be expected from Woods moving forward?
Michael Collins, ESPN.com senior golf analyst: Twenty eight, 28, 32, 29. That's how many putts Tiger had each round at the Memorial. That's what he did better, and he didn't let the two double-bogeys in the first two rounds put him behind the eight ball, as he made pars and birdies afterward and didn't compound the issue of a big number.
Farrell Evans, ESPN.com senior golf writer: Tiger didn't have any of those wild Hank Haney era swings that seemed to always thwart any momentum he would have in a round. He was composed and assured of what he was trying to do with every shot.
Bob Harig, ESPN.com senior golf writer: He had distance control with his irons. Woods led the field in greens in regulation but also hit numerous approach shots pin high, a sign of solid ball striking. He also gave himself those chances by hitting more fairways. He hit all but one Sunday.
Kevin Maguire, ESPN.com senior golf editor: Tiger limited his mistakes at Muirfield Village. He had nearly half as many bogeys or worse at the Memorial (eight) as he did at the Masters (15). If you go back to his victory at the Arnold Palmer Invitational in March, it's the same story. Woods had only six bogeys or worse at Bay Hill. If he can limit the big numbers, he'll make his birdies and move up leaderboards.
2. What most impressed you about Tiger's victory at the Memorial?
Michael Collins: The finish. At his win at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, he was able to play defense all day Sunday when Graeme McDowell threw up on his shoes on the first hole Sunday morning. This past Sunday he had to go get it and he did. It was a closing stretch of golf on a tough course in tough conditions that no one even came close to matching. The reaction to the chip in on the 16th hole was from the Tiger that used to scare other pro golfers to death.
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Farrell Evans: The flop shot at 16 reminded me of the old days when the magic he could conjure outweighed all the swing mechanics.
Bob Harig: How well he hit the ball. Tiger was ill on Friday and Saturday but still hit shots with effortless power. Gone were the numerous rehearsal swings that seemed to suggest he was uncomfortable in past tournaments.
Kevin Maguire: Some might reference his stats for greens in regulation or driving accuracy, but I'm going with some a little less tangible. Woods did many things well at the Memorial, but most impressive was how he handled the varying conditions over the course of the week with great aplomb. He faced heat, gusty winds and rain among other things and when he gets to Olympic in San Francisco for the U.S. Open, he knows the weather will be very unpredictable. How he deals with those meteorological situations will prove crucial if he wants to get major win No. 15 next week.
3. What percentage chance do you give Tiger Woods to win the U.S. Open at Olympic Club?
Michael Collins: I said before he had zero chance. I was wrong. That's right, I admit it. I'll say it again. I was wrong. We cool now? Going into the U.S. Open I give him a 75 percent chance to win if he hits it as good as he did at Memorial.
Farrell Evans: I give Tiger just a 30 percent chance of winning. He's got to be the favorite but it's just too difficult to know the condition of his game headed into that week. Like Bay Hill, Tiger has owned Muirfield Village over the years, so it wasn't a surprise that he would win this week. But we saw how he played at the Masters after the hype around Bay Hill.
Bob Harig: A low percentage, maybe 25 percent. It's just too much to pick one player, even Tiger, to win one specific tournament. Many others will have a say in the championship. Woods undoubtedly goes to Olympic Club with a lot of confidence, but you still need a lot to happen, a lot to go right, to win.
Kevin Maguire: I'll say 25 percent, and that's probably a little high. Don't get me wrong; he played great at Memorial, showed amazing skill birdieing three of the last four holes to come back from four shots down to start the final round. But doing it at the Memorial, no matter how hard it is, and doing it at the U.S. Open are two very different situations. Tiger might have to hit a few more drivers at Olympic Club than he did at Muirfield Village, which could certainly become his undoing next week.
4. What part of Tiger's game still needs some work before the year's second major?
Michael Collins: Tiger's got to get better out of the bunkers. He was 5-of-9 at Muirfield and it cost him a few strokes. If he can bring up the bunker save percentage, he's going to be one step closer to being that guy again.
Farrell Evans: Tiger still needs to prove to himself that he can consistently apply the new Sean Foley swing, and not fall back into playing golf swing. A month or two of this kind of play, and I would be glad to declare that he's back on top of his game. Bob Harig: Putting. Woods ranked 41st in the field in strokes gained putting, and while he led the field in greens in regulation, it is still rare for a player to win without being among the top 10 in putting. It shows how good the other 13 clubs were. Woods made more putts on Sunday, but left a lot out there Saturday, taking 32. When he gives himself good chances, he needs to convert more of them.
Kevin Maguire: That would be the aforementioned driver. It's been a long time since we've seen Tiger hit so few drivers during a round. Can he go to the big dog when he's bearing down on a 670-yard, par-5 like he will be in San Francisco? That remains to be seen.
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