Tiger: will blood, sweat, tears pay off?

Tiger Woods is hoping that a full off-season of hard work on his short game will help him launch 2011 with a bang today.

Tiger Woods is hoping that a full off-season of blood, sweat and tears on his short game will help him launch 2011 with a bang when he tees off in Thursday’s first round of the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines in San Diego.
The former world number one endured a difficult 2010 following turbulent events in his private life which including divorce from wife Elin and it all led to him failing to win a tournament and falling from the top of the rankings to number three.
The 35-year-old put his struggles down to a lack of consistency in and around the greens as he repeatedly tweaked his swing, and he believes the work he has done with coach Sean Foley over the winter will reap dividends as he returns to the scene of his famous triumph at the 2008 US Open.
“I didn’t focus on my short game as much as I have in the past,” he said. “It was because I was making changes to my swing and I needed to spend more time on that. But I have had time to work on my short game during this off-season.
“You need to hit thousands of balls. We were not able to do that last year and last year was one of the worst putting years I have ever had.
“It’s been a while since I have had a full off-season. I’ve been hurt quite a bit over that period and it’s nice to have a true off-season to work on my game.
“I was consumed by other things last year and had to deal with that, but life moves on and that’s what’s exciting. I have a proper perspective on things. My kids are doing great and golf is now somewhere down the list after that.”
Woods also revealed that he occasionally watches his performance from that 2008 major at this venue, but says it is his Saturday performance, where he hauled himself into contention for victory despite being in clear discomfort due to a knee problem, rather than his Sunday and Monday rounds that he recalls the most fondly.
“I have watched it a few times,” he said. “I don’t watch much of Sunday or Monday, but I do watch Saturday quite a bit and reflect on it.
“Saturday turned the whole tournament around. I wasn’t hitting it very good but I made a couple of eagles and chipped in on 17.
“I got myself into contention and on Saturday I hurt more than I did on the other days. So to perform at that level in that pain is something I am very proud of.
“It was stupid of me to play and go through that pain, so I have a hard-headed side to me.”
Woods will partner the man he vanquished in that Monday play-off two-and-a-half years ago during the first two rounds after being drawn with Rocco Mediate. Anthony Kim will make up their three.
“I bet the (PGA) commissioner couldn’t believe his luck,” Woods said of the draw.
“I’m looking forward to it. Rocco and I have had some history here but I have known him since my rookie year and it will be fun to play with him.”
Woods also revealed his concern at the recent disqualifications of Camilla Villegas and Padraig Harrington for rule infractions that were picked up on television.
The Colombian and the Irishman were sent home from tournaments in Hawaii and Abu Dhabi respectively after signing scorecards they believed were correct at the time, only for television footage to show they should have taken two-shot penalties.
Woods said: “It’s our responsibility to know the rules, that’s part of playing the game.
“We are out there doing it for a living but the only difference with these rulings is that some infractions have happened and will continue to happen (and not be picked up) but some guys are on TV all the time so it’s maybe not a level playing field.”