On Time Magazine: A Tiger Woods Swing Midrash

One of Time Magazine's top stories this week during the Master's Golf Tournament is the saga of "Golf: Why Tiger Woods' Swing Overhaul May Hurt His Game."

The gist of the account is that top golfers don't understand why the great athlete Woods is renovating his swing for a third time.

It's no great midrash to interpret what is going on with this golfer.

We speculate on solid ground that Tiger really wants to redo his life choices. He's made some bad "swings" and now he wants to correct them. The only thing Tiger knows is golf and thus he is for a third time trying to "fix his swing." Yes, he should make strenuous efforts to do that.

Here is what Sean Gregory says in Time about the athletic expression of Tiger's personal needs:
Woods first overhauled his technique after the 1997 Masters, which he won by a record 12 strokes. Woods felt that victory had more to do with good timing on his shots, which you can have in any given week, than sound mechanics, which you need to sustain long-term success. Essentially, Woods felt he got lucky. So Woods and his first pro coach, Butch Harmon (who now instructs Woods' longtime rival, Mickelson), worked on slowing down Woods' torso movement on the downswing, which would presumably lead to less erratic shots.

These initial tweaks produced the greatest run in modern golf history. Between the 1999 PGA Championship and the 2002 U.S. Open, Woods won seven out of 11 majors, including four straight in 2000 and 2001, a streak dubbed the "Tiger Slam." But after his victory in the 2002 U.S. Open, Woods wanted another overhaul, which Harmon, and many fans, didn't believe he needed. Why mess with unprecedented success? Woods and Harmon parted ways that year.

His next coach, Haney, told Golf Digest this year that when he and Woods first connected in 2003, Woods sought changes that eased the pressure on his left knee, which was already creaky. Haney, however, had told the magazine last year that Woods' knee didn't drive the fixes. No matter: the knee faltered anyway, and in the eight years since he left Harmon, Woods has won just six of 32 majors. Sure, that's an impressive mark, and Woods enjoyed a true resurgence in 2006, when he won two majors and finished the year with six straight PGA-tour victories (he won his seventh straight in 2007). And he was red-hot in 2008, before the ACL surgery. Still, what if Woods had stuck with his Tiger Slam–era swing? Would he have already passed Nicklaus?

...now Woods is rebuilding yet again. Foley is tightening Woods' grip on the golf club and asking him to keep his arms closer to his body, which should improve his efficiency and keep Woods straighter. But golf swings are a delicate thing. Even for a golf machine like Woods, how many disruptions to muscle memory can one man take before seeds of doubt creep into his brain — and hurt his game for good?
And if you must ask, Woods is not Jewish. He is Buddhist.

In 2010 Woods explained his religious practice according to Huff Post, "I practice meditation," he said. "That is something that I do, that my mum taught me over the years. We also have a thing we do every year, where we go to temple together. In the Buddhist religion you have to work for it yourself, internally, in order to achieve anything in life and set up the next life. It is all about what you do and you get out of it what you put into it."

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