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Play your own game

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Tony spoke to former Reuters golf correspondent Tony Jimenez to discuss Tiger Woods’s announcement last week that he had undergone yet another knee operation:

“I’ve never heard of anyone who’s had to go through as much surgery as Tiger and still been able to play golf. It’s amazing to me.

I know the latest one was only micro surgery to his left knee and it would seem to be a minor procedure but that knee, the way he swings the club, the way he goes through a tremendous rotation of his body, it’s a pivotal part of his technique.

It’s therefore very important that he’s stable and strong. If you watch his swing, you can easily see that he goes through a lot of stress, turning and stretching.

That’s five knee operations and four back surgeries he’s had now but Tiger is still out there doing his thing and he’s hoping to be back on the tournament scene in October. I’m sure he will put time and energy into strengthening that left knee. He’s obviously a gym worker and he’ll be doing everything to get it right again.

I remember Greg Norman having a few operations back in his day. He had that same knee done and seemed to be under the knife more than most.

Going back to when I was in my prime, no one was in the gym apart from Gary Player. We all ducked and dived and did what we had to do to get ready to play.

A bit like Colin Montgomerie, who has never had any significant physical ailments. He may not be Mr Universe to look at but he’s limber and supple. Monty always avoided going over the top with the physical side of the game and I think there’s wisdom in that approach. Being nice and supple is crucial in our game.

He was never a ball-beater on the practice range either and it shows there are lots of ways to skin a cat. I’ve seen the Ben Hogan era, the Arnold Palmer era, examples of different approaches, there have been so many.

Nick Faldo, for example, was a tinkerer, a perfectionist. He would hit thousands of balls in his effort to get things right, but then you get a Monty or a Bruce Leitzke, who never practised between tournaments. Ultimately, it’s all down to whatever works for you as an individual.

Peter Thomson and Bobby Locke just went out and played. You never heard of them doing a lot of physical work. They just got on with it.

For a youngster starting out, there’s no perfect way to approach it. My young son Sean is a professional and I exposed him golf-wise to everything growing up, but the one thing I’ve tried to instil in him is to be self-sufficient.

When Jack Nicklaus was very young, Bobby Jones told him that it is only when he can sort out his own mistakes that he would be able to go on and become a great player.

You have to become a Mr Fixit for yourself, in my opinion. Watch great players, mix in some of their elements with your own game, their techniques, attitudes, but ultimately adopt your own outlook and make it suit your own game.

See what works for yourself and what doesn’t. Know how to get the best out of your own game. That’s the bottom line.

Motivation and inspiration is vital for the modern player. You’ve got to be motivated every time you tee it up. If you put your tee in the ground and say, ‘Here we go again’. That won’t get it done.

You’ve always got to be inspired to want to work to improve and get better.”