Tiger faces greatest challenge, says Leadbetter

Mon Apr 6, 2015 4:47pm EDT
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By Mark Lamport-Stokes

AUGUSTA, Georgia (Reuters) - If Tiger Woods can resurrect his game from the astonishing depths he has plunged in recent months, it would be his greatest achievement in a stellar career, says respected swing coach David Leadbetter.

The greatest player of his generation and arguably of all time, Woods has tumbled from top spot in the world rankings to a mind-boggling 111th over the past year with many experts convinced that he is suffering from the "chipping yips".

A 14-times major champion, Woods will return to competition after a two-month break at this week's Masters with his short game in particular under intense scrutiny on a challenging, heavily contoured Augusta National layout.

"It's amazing to see how far he has fallen," Leadbetter told Reuters during the build-up to the year's first major. "If you think what he has done up to this point in time has been great, it will be nothing if he can come back from where he is now.

"If Tiger can get to a point where he actually wins majors again from where he is right now, that would be remarkable. it would surpass everything he has done before.

"He's gone to the dark side in a lot of different areas, not only with his golf swing but with his short game and his mind. It's shocking. You just can't fathom it with a player like him."

Leadbetter, best known for rebuilding the swing of fellow Englishman Nick Faldo who went on to win six major titles, believes that Woods' problems on the golf course are a combination of mental strength and technique.

"The mental and technical bleed into each other," said the 62-year-old Leadbetter.   Continued...

Tiger Woods of the U.S. looks out at the golf course as he prepares to play his practice round ahead of the 2015 Masters at the Augusta National Golf Course in Augusta, Georgia April 6, 2015.  REUTERS/Jim Young