Tiger and I
against the yips

Mindful of the trails and tribulations ahead of us this week, Tiger Woods and I stride manfully towards our challenges — his in The US Masters at Augusta National, mine in a pound-a-corner four-ball better-ball at the Old Course, St Andrews.
Two sacred venues that for this week embrace the whole spectrum of golfing ability, from one of the world’s greats to one of the game’s most pitiful wretches.
Pure fate has decreed our paths should be linked this week. He is coming back after a long and anguished absence from the game and I am at St Andrews on our 17th annual trip to golf’s cathedral.
And we are both accompanied by an unwelcome companion — the chipping yips. His are a recent invader into his game. Mine have been with me for bloody years.
When he went off into the wilderness to seek a cure for the yips that were destroying his game he took with him the good wishes of millions of hackers. If he could find the answer to this most pernicious of golfing ailments he could lead us to the promised land and spend the rest of his life in an aura of loving gratitude.
I shall be thinking of him every time I draw the club back to execute a nifty little chip to the flag from off the green and risk making a right berk of myself again..
I hesitate to say that I have a slight advantage but I am playing at the Old Course which is fairly flat and has close-cut fairways than run right up to the green. So, as long as there is not a bunker in the way you can putt from miles away.
I’m sure those who created the game at the Old Course long ago used to use their putters from way out, it seems natural. Then some fancy-arse invented chipping and put a lot of us in trouble.
There’s nothing more satisfying than a 100 yard putt that rolls close. It is not easy, mind.
Friends of mine still tell the story of when I was playing the 16th on the Old Course and I was heard to complain: ’I’ve three-putted and I haven’t reached the green yet.’
I shall endeavour to do better this week but I have had a week in bed with flu, or whatever they call it, and I am not at my strongest and three rounds in three days may be a bit too much.
But I will soldier on while keeping an eye on Tiger in search of the inspiration I trust him to provide.

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against the yips

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