SOUTHAMPTON (New York): Butch Harmon defended his critique of Tiger Woods that irked the eight-time major champion, but the swing coach said his former star pupil has lost his once-mighty form and his rivals all know it.
Harmon, working as a British television analyst, said Woods was “in denial” about his struggling swing mechanics that have him regularly missing fairways, adding that Woods should look at tapes of his 2000 form to regain his swing.
“If I was Tiger Woods, I'd probably be upset if I heard the same thing,” Harmon said on Sunday. “I didn't say anything that players on the practice tee haven't been saying for weeks.”
Harmon's original rebuke stung Woods, who fired back, “I don't know why he would say anything like that. Obviously he doesn't really know what I'm working on.”
But Woods, who is engaged to Swedish model Elin Nordegren, has clearly come under the glare of rivals who find him wanting.
“There's something wrong with his swing,” Zimbabwe's Nick Price said. “This is the first time we're seeing him missing fairways with an iron off the tee. Until he starts hitting fairways, I don't think he's going to play any better.
“He can't keep doing this. It's not one shot. He's hitting a big hook and blocking it too. When he starts hitting more fairways, then he will win again.”
Harmon noted that he was serving as an expert analyst and responding to a question, adding that only Woods stresses secrecy and knows how changes in his body have affected his swing.
“His body has changed a lot since 2000. He's bigger in the chest and bigger in the biceps.
“If he would go back to just putting his ball in play, doing what he was doing in the past - and I don't think he needs me to do these things - he would have more control of the ball in the air and he would have (better results).
“Bottom line, if we look at the Tiger Woods of 2000 and the Tiger Woods of now, it's a different person.”
South Africa's Ernie Els is on the verge of moving past Woods as world number one and players are no longer intimidated by a lurking Tiger.
“Attitudes have changed,” Ireland's Padraig Harrington said. “Before there was an attitide you had to play really well to beat Tiger.
“But now players are taking the attitude 'I'll just play my own game and let him play well if he wants to beat me.'“ – AFP