DORAL, FLA. (AP) - Tiger Woods is hitting some of his best shots when no one is watching.
That’s typically the case when Woods tries to build a new golf swing, and his third major swing change is no exception. Put him on the practice range at home in Isleworth and he says he goes through long stretches of hitting the ball how he wants. Put him inside the ropes, with a scorecard in hand and TV cameras in the towers, and he has stretches of looking ordinary.
But there is one big difference this time around.
Woods isn’t playing very much.
When he tees it up Thursday in the Cadillac Championship at Doral, it will be only his 10th competitive round of the year, an unusually low number with the Masters around the corner. Woods talks about needing more competition, and most would agree that would speed along the process of revamping his swing. It also leads to a natural question.
Why not play more tournaments?
“Because I have a family. I’m divorced,” Woods replied solemnly. “If you’ve been divorced with kids, then you would understand.”
It spoke to a personal life that remains as much a work in progress as his golf swing.
There was speculation after Woods lost in the first round of the Match Play Championship that he would play the Honda Classic, especially since he is close to moving to south Florida. But that was his time with his 3 1/2-year-old daughter and 1-year-old son as part of the “shared parenting” with ex-wife Elin. There are no plans to play next week at Innisbrook, either.
Woods can’t expect any sympathy for a situation he created through serial adultery. Even so, his playing schedule reflects that he’s having to change more than his swing.
When he went through his first big overhaul under Butch Harmon after the 1997 season, Woods played 17 rounds before the Florida swing. At the start of 2004 under Hank Haney, he played 22 rounds leading to Florida, the traditional start of the road to the Masters.
This year, he has played nine rounds in competition.
Woods started his season at Torrey Pines with four rounds, only two of them under par. Two weeks later he was off to Dubai, where he was in contention until a 75 on the wind-blown final day. After another two-week break came the Match Play Championship, where he lost in the opening round to Thomas Bjorn.
There is no cut at this World Golf Championship, so he is guaranteed four rounds this week.
It starts Thursday on the Blue Monster, a course where he has won three times and never finished out of the top 10 in four other appearances. That means nothing anymore, for Woods had never finished out of the top 10 at either Torrey Pines and Dubai until this year.