DAVID LEADBETTER has told Golfmagic that Tiger Woods does not need a permanent new swing coach.
Speaking exclusively to us during the official unveiling of his new Leadbetter Academy at La Manga Club in Spain, Leadbetter, who has instructed the likes of major champions Ernie Els, Sir Nick Faldo and Nick Price, believes Woods has accumulated enough knowledge of his swing down the years to avoid yet another major swing change.
For Leadbetter, the 14-time major champion simply just needs to play a game of mix and match.
“I don’t think Tiger needs someone coming in there and saying ‘okay well listen we need to reinvent the wheel here’ because he’s too great a player for that,” said Leadbetter, who has tallied 19 major titles and counting with the players he has instructed.
“Tiger is 39 years of age now, he’s got some serious health issues, physical ones, and he needs to find something he can do on a regular basis and make sure it has some sort of scientific authenticity attached to it.
“If he’s looking for somebody like that then he’s not giving himself enough credit. Tiger has been through sort of three major swing changes in his life so you would think he’d be able to figure it out, maybe taking the best of this, the best of that and the best of that, and try to mix and match to see if he can find something that works.
“He’s always been a player that has had a coach, so yeah, I’m sure he needs someone who he can confide in and bounce things off, but I don’t think he needs someone to come in and say ‘well listen, here’s my new method for you and this is what I think you should try.’”
Leadbetter, who also revealed to us he briefly worked with a fresh-faced Woods before he moved on to apply his trade with Butch Harmon, said if he was given the reigns again he’d look at nurturing the rotational movement in his back swing.
"I mean I did have quite a long session with Tiger when he was 17 but it didn’t quite work out because he was in California and I was in Florida, and he then decided to go to Butch at the time because he was either closer or whatever it may have been," he added.
“Tiger’s swing has always been very dynamic and very powerful, but because of that, he’s putting a lot of strain on the body.
“For me, he doesn’t have enough, what I would call, rotational movement in his back swing. It’s very restricted. Some people call it the ‘X Factor’ where you have very little movement with your lower body and a huge upper body wind up.
“He’s got a lot of flexibility in his upper body but for me, Tiger’s issue more than anything else when he’s not swinging well is that he lacks synchronisation between his upper, his lower and not only that but his torso in general and his arms. Tiger gets so explosive that the arms, the hands and the club sort of trail to such an extent and they can’t catch up.
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“We always hear people say ‘why doesn’t he just swing smoothly?’ but it’s hard because he’s a very ballistic type of guy. When he swings it soft and smoother, things sync up a little more and he hits it on line. That’s not Tiger, though. He doesn’t want to see Rory hitting it 30 yards by him. That’s just not his game. Tiger’s not going to be the longest out there anymore and time has changed.”
In the eyes of Leadbetter, Woods’ current situation isn’t too dissimilar to the one of Seve Ballesteros, a player whom he worked with for a year in the early 90s, in the sense he now needs to focus on finding the fairway and working on his strengths rather than worrying about a power game.
“I think back to Seve, who represented La Manga Club many years ago, and he was going through some serious back problems at that stage too.
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“I sort of managed to get into Seve’s head and told him he needed to change his game plan. I told him ‘Look, you’re not going to be the old Seve, you need to find a way to hit the ball in the fairway and then use your strength from around 100 yards in order to play great’.
“Seve did that for a year and played well but then some family member talked him out of it and basically told him he shouldn’t be swinging like that. From that point on, his game never really got any better.”
For more information about La Manga Club, visit www.lamangaclub.com