We've all witnessed Tiger Woods' short-game woes of late and we've all heard his go-to explanation. Woods has maintained a change in his full swing under new instructor Chris Como has resulted in a different "release pattern" on his chips.
But two major champions-turned TV analysts aren't buying it. At all.
"I think it's crazy," Johnny Miller said in a conference call ahead of NBC's coverage of next week's Honda Classic, which Woods is skipping for the first time in four years. "You know, when you pitch, all you do is just take it back and brush the grass. . . . It doesn't take a genius to just make a little arc and brush the grass and put it up there near the hole."
David Duval had a similar reaction.
"I think that's a false statement. I don't agree with that at all," he said. "I mean, chipping is chipping. To hit a solid contact on a 30-yard pitch, everybody does it the same way. That's just how you get the ball up; keep it low, get it running, whatever."
Woods has always been known for a masterful short game, but he started having serious issues during the Hero World Challenge last December when he hit a series of chunks at Isleworth. When he made his 2015 PGA Tour debut in Phoenix, the problems didn't go away, especially during a second-round 82 -- the highest score of his pro career. The following week, he played 11 sketchy holes at the Torrey Pines before withdrawing with a back injury.
"Having known him a long, long time, it's hard to say, hard to watch. I had to live through a lot of it on my own, as well," Duval said. "I think that injuries have really broken him down, his physicality, and I think through that, mentally. And once you get scarred mentally, it's a hard thing to come back with. It's a funny thing how memory works -- I'm not a psychiatrist, they could explain it better. But replacing short-term memories is a very difficult, trying process, and that's what you have to do at this point, and it takes a long, long time."
Last week, Woods posted a statement on his website saying his "play, and scores are not acceptable for tournament golf" and he'd return again when his game was ready. Woods skipping the Honda means he also won't play at the World Golf Championships event at Doral the following week because of his sinking world ranking. Woods is currently ranked No. 66, and his short-game issues make it seem like he's a long way from turning things around.
"He must have some demons in his head," Miller said. "It's like somebody short-circuited his hand-eye coordination. . . . I don't know what's going on. I really don't. Only Tiger probably could tell you, and he won't tell you how it can get that bad when you're skulling it across the greens and chili-dipping about every other one."