Dark day for Woods raises prospect of the 'yips'

Fri Jan 30, 2015 10:41pm EST
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By Mark Lamport-Stokes

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Stunned golf fans at the Phoenix Open were left to ponder how the mighty have fallen after Tiger Woods plunged to new depths with the worst score of his professional career in Friday's second round.

Looking more like a struggling amateur than the greatest player of his generation, and arguably of all time, Woods was out-of-sorts in every phase of his game as he laboured to a mind-boggling 11-over-par 82 at the TPC Scottsdale.

His chipping, in particular, was poor and many pundits are now pointing to Woods, a 14-times major champion once renowned for his magical skills around the green, as being a sufferer of the 'yips' when it comes to that component.

Dottie Pepper, who won 17 times on the LPGA Tour, including two majors, tweeted on Friday: "Never fun seeing, let alone reporting on, 2 dreaded topics in golf: shanks & yips. Sadly, #Tiger has the latter. Nerves not mechanics."

Arron Oberholser, a PGA Tour player who also works as an analyst and commentator for Golf Channel, said: "I think the greatest player that I've ever seen has the yips.

"Whether that's because of a release pattern or whether it's not enough reps, it's flat out the disease. He's got the yips."

Woods had also struggled with his chipping in his previous tournament, last month's Hero World Challenge in Orlando where he tied for last place, and at Scottsdale he hit chips fat and thin while occasionally resorting to a putter instead.

Before any rush to judgement is made, however, it is worth emphasising that Woods was competing at Scottsdale in only his second event in five months, having endured back problems for much of last year after undergoing surgery.   Continued...

Jan 30, 2015; Scottsdale, AZ, USA; Tiger Woods hits his drive on the 17th hole during the second round of the Waste Management Phoenix Open at TPC Scottsdale. Rob Schumacher-Arizona Republic via USA TODAY Sports