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USA Today Sports Media Group
USA Today Sports Media Group
Sport
Adam Schupak

Is Tiger Woods’ golf swing better post-accident? One legendary swing instructor explains why

AUGUSTA, Ga. – After enduring a horrific car crash in February 2021, Tiger Woods returned to the Masters 508 days later and made the cut. What will he do for his next act?

That is to be determined but one legendary golf instructor thinks the accident actually was a positive for Tiger’s golf swing.

Carl Lohren turned 85 last week and more than 50 years after pupils Deane Beman, Marty Fleckman and Babe Hiskey were on the PGA Tour, he’s got another up-and-comer in the name of Ryan Gerard, who earned Special Temporary Membership on the Tour on Sunday.

Lohren, author of the cult-classic instructional book “One Move to Better Golf,” has forgotten more about the golf swing than most instructors know. He developed his philosophy on the swing while watching Ben Hogan and he has strong opinions on Tiger’s latest swing since the accident, arguing that Tiger’s swing, which was most recently on display at the Genesis Invitational in February, is vastly improved, in part, because of the accident.

Masters 2023 leaderboard: Get the latest news from Augusta

“The accident helped Tiger because his right leg and right hip aren’t jumping anymore,” Lohren said. “He doesn’t block it as much. When Tiger hit it hard, he had a strong tendency to have his right leg and hip overpower his left leg and hip and that causes an early spin out.”

For several years Tiger feared the driver, according to Hank Haney, his former instructor of six years, who tabbed Tiger’s Big Miss, what tour pros call the shot that can bring a big number into play, as a block to the right.

Tiger Woods hits from the No. 13 fairway during a practice round ahead of the 2023 Masters at Augusta National Golf Club. (Photo: Michael Madrid-USA TODAY Network)

“He hit it too early with his lower right side. When he’d get to the top of the backswing, he’d spin the right hip real early, which is what caused his knee problem,” Lohren said. “Instead of moving laterally first and then turning, he turned right away and when he did that then the left hip never got over the left foot. The left hip was behind the left foot and it put a lot of strain on his knee. If his left hip would have gone laterally in the beginning, his left hip would’ve gotten over his left foot so when he made that violent turn it would be all stacked up over the foot and the knee wouldn’t have taken the brunt of it.

“But because he spun early from the right hip, not only did he get stuck behind that right hip, so his hands were going out to the right, but his left hip didn’t get over his left foot, lack of lateral motion in the beginning, and therefore the left knee absorbed the problem. That’s why he hit it sideways with the driver.”

Augusta National is typically thought of as a second-shot course, but driving the ball has become increasingly important in recent years. If Tiger can avoid his ‘Big Miss’ and find more fairways, it could go a long way to upping his chances of winning a 16th major and sixth career Green Jacket. Lohren isn’t saying that the crash was a good thing overall – Tiger’s stamina and ability to play 72 holes will forever be in question due to the injuries to his leg and ankle – but it isn’t all bad at least when it comes to his swing.

“Now, with his right leg and right hip no longer able to be so active, he swings the driver more like he did an iron,” Lohren said.

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