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Woods' problems come down to too much love and too much muscle

By Tim McDonald, Contributor

Everybody wants to know what's wrong with Tiger Woods. I think I know. The problem is two-fold.

Swedish models and dumbbells.

Though the two may or may not be mutually exclusive, they have combined to knock El Tigre off the top of the mountain as the No. 1 golfer in the world. He's not even No. 2 any more.

While Woods is renting entire resorts and helicopter fleets to ensure the media doesn't horn in on his Barbados honeymoon with his reported new bride, Elin Nordegren, the new kings of the mountain, No. 1 Vijay Singh and No. 2 Ernie Els, are gunning it out in the Dunhill Links Championship at St. Andrews.

It's hard to blame him. Say you're a 28-year-old with a bank account the size of Egypt and a statuesque blonde on your hands. Would you rather be in sunny Barbados on a private yacht or in the cold bogs of the Old Course chasing Vijay and Ernie?

Me, too.

But, it's obviously costing him professionally. So says Singh, who is 41 years old and doesn't have the burden or delight of making such choices.

"I'm sure he's going to start winning sooner or later, but at the moment I think his focus is elsewhere," Singh told the Western Mail of Wales.

But, there's a deeper problem, one that is a result of these modern times in which the fitness police say any problems you may have can be worked out in the gym.

Woods wasn't exactly having problem in 2000 and 2001, which is roughly when he started his ultra-secret exercise routine. Presumably, he wanted to get even better; either that, or he wanted to bulk up to attract world-class babes.

In any event, the bulked-up Tiger just isn't working.

"I think it's his body change a little bit, and his golf swing changed," Singh said. "As you get older you have to keep adjusting to your golf swing. When he first came on to the scene, he was extremely strong. I'm not saying he isn't now, but you do slow down a little bit. The golf swing has to match your body ability.

"I don't think he has progressed that way. There's been a big change in his body mannerisms and his golf swing. You know, I have adjusted accordingly and for the better, and I don't think he has done that."

Singh's explanation is only partly on the mark. Woods is only 28. He's in the prime of his athletic life, not slowing down. Still, you have to wonder if all that exercise isn't affecting the natural plane of growth of his body.

Woods went from a skinny 150-pound 21-year-old to a mini-Arnold Schwarzenegger, 180-pound 28-year-old. His golf shirts don't fit, and neither does his swing.

You don't have to be Charles Atlas to swing a golf club. Thank God we have the Craig Stadlers and John Dalys of the world to prove that.

If you can believe Golf Digest, who claims to have uncovered Woods' workout routine in its "Secrets" issue, Woods goes at it hammer and tong in the gym, when he's not playing.

He spends three or four hours a day, five days a week in the gym, according to the magazine, in high-intensity workouts. He varies it, from strength training to flexibility to cardiovascular work.

He starts with 30 minutes of full-body stretching, focusing on the muscles of the legs and trunk. He has a physical therapist helping him focus on the joints used to swing a club as ferocious as he does, from kneecaps to vertebrae.

Then, it's on to cardiovascular work, using the treadmill, stair-stepper and climbing machine. He also loves to jog three or four miles, always on grass.

On the days he lifts weights, he pumps 80 percent of his maximum weight, doing things like bench press, shoulder press and squats; he can reportedly bench press 300 pounds, which is roughly what a college linebacker can do. He does sets of six to eight reps, with heavy weights.

He tries to make this regimen "golf-specific," focusing on such things as posture and grip strength. He also tries to build "core strength," according to the magazine, which involves strengthening the muscles that stabilize your body.

That means keeping the torso in place while moving your limbs in different ways. Then he cools down with more stretching.

I'm tired just writing all that.

Heavy workout like this are a fragile area in world-class athletes. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. Ernie Els lost 15 pounds with a regimen that sounds similar, a routine he claims helped rejuvenate his game.

Nick Faldo, on the other hand, bulked up in the mid-90s and lost his touch around the green.

You see this kind of thing all the time in athletes who are either seeking an edge or trying to recapture it. Aging boxers sometimes try to add muscle; usually it doesn't help them in the ring. Remember when John McEnroe tried stretching when he was making an unsuccessful comeback? It didn't work.

The world's best athletes seem to reach a peak when they evolve naturally into a sort of Olympian convergence of mind and body. Obviously, there's nothing wrong with keeping in shape, but tampering too much with this mysterious process can cause harm, especially by employing artificial means.

Woods was a naturally perfect, golf-swing lever as a 21-year-old. Now, he's a souped-up Ferrari with problems under the hood.

Tim McDonaldTim McDonald, Contributor

Veteran golf writer Tim McDonald keeps one eye on the PGA Tour and another watching golf vacation hotspots and letting travelers in on the best place to vacation.

Reader Comments / Reviews Leave a comment
  • the year of the Tiger

    Logan wrote on: Oct 26, 2006

    Barring catastrophe, Tiger Wodds shall be hailed the best golfer of all time. Your opinion is noted, but it has been weighed and found wanting, Mr. McDonald.


  • El Tigre Bulking Up

    Aaron wrote on: Sep 21, 2006

    Well...I guess Tiger proved this guy WRONG now.
    So how many more PGA tours does he have to catch the legend?? Not very many....and Tiger shortened the number drastically just in the last year.


  • Is this writer still working?

    Casey wrote on: Apr 4, 2006

    I love reading old articles from people whose knowledge of golf is limited to long driving contests...
    Does this writer still even have a job?
    Or has quit from shame?


  • That makes me sick

    Dave wrote on: Feb 17, 2005

    That makes me sick that someone could be ignorant enough to bash one of the best athletes of all time. I have so much respect for Tiger Woods and i know he'll be number 1 again before the end of the 2005 season. Giver' Tiger, Get'er done!


  • McDonald is a boob

    Peter Kostis wrote on: Dec 15, 2004

    McDonald is such a boob.
    Tiger is God! He is making his comeback now!


  • Tiger's condition

    Mike Carroll wrote on: Dec 1, 2004

    Years ago, Johnny Miller's decline and fall from championship form was said to have begun when he very consciously muscled up one winter by chopping wood like an olympian. Did that story have any merit? Then there's the case of Keith Clearwater, whose bodybuilding supposedly took him off the top of golf's leaderboards, too. And surely there are many other great or near-great golfers whose games have been changed for the worse when with good intentions but unwisely they increased their muscle mass overmuch, most of whose names we'll never know because they became musclebound, not better golfers. Maybe you need to make that message more explicit to balance out the claims of physical fitness gurus.


  • This is absurd

    Are you serious? wrote on: Nov 7, 2004

    This is what you call poor journalism. Obviously, this writer does not play golf...even if he did, not to a competitive level. To be on top of your game day in day out is a tremendous feat and to say he's on a slump is crazy. This article justifies why this guy is writing the article and not playing competitive golf.


  • Tiger's developed muscles

    Danny wrote on: Nov 6, 2004

    This has to be most moronic thing I've ever read. He's 6'2" inches tall and now weighs 180lbs and probably has body fat close to 10% or less. Maybe Tiger should not work out and turn into a lazy lard like most of the american population. He's not playing his best and is still always at the top of the leader board. Weight doesn't go on overnight and I'm pretty sure he's adapted well. Three years ago I was 154lbs at 6'2" and now I'm 183lbs after working out and my swing still feels the same except I gained yardage. Anyone who workouts properly will have constant stretching in their workout.


  • Please!

    Ballzo wrote on: Nov 4, 2004

    The author is obviously a lazy hack. Terrible reporting IMO.


  • El Tigre Bulking Up

    Kiley Miller wrote on: Oct 28, 2004

    That was perhaps the least scientific, most absurdly superficial pseudo-analysis I've ever read. It seems more likely this was one writer's attempt to justify his own unwillingness to lift anything heavier than a hogey and a tall boy.


    • RE: El Tigre Bulking Up

      al wrote on: Nov 1, 2004

      Bulking up is not Tigers problem. If you look at old videos of Tiger when he was working with Butch. Tigers back swing position was low and in control. Now, his back swing is more upright and out of his power position. Which translates into lack of control. He is unaware of where his hands are, which means he is releasing his right hand from different positions. The result being, conplex angles at point of contact resulting in a closed club face or an open face. His right hand doesn't square up to the ball consistanly. NO brainer for a trained athlete.


  • El Tigre - Bulking Up

    Jim Bob wrote on: Oct 14, 2004

    Definitely agree with this analysis. Other than attracting babes, why would the world's best player bulk up - to win a longest drive contest? The world's longest drivers can't play on the PGA tour - they can't possible have any feel and they've traded off flexibility for brute strength.


    • RE: El Tigre - Bulking Up

      Ray wrote on: Oct 14, 2004

      I remember some of the oldtimers cautioning about building the chest muscles.Trevino was against doing pushups.As a trainer I agree.What should be done is stretching to maintain your current range of moition.As we age we all lose flexibility. allso cardio has never hurt anyone .But don!t overdo it.Too much cardio will zap your overall strength


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