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Simply the Best: Golfer Tiger Woods Strives Only to Sharpen His GameAired July 5, 2000 - 2:26 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: How do you improve on perfection? Tiger Woods is headed for the British Open, as may know, at Saint Andrews July 20th. And his coaches are looking for his best performance yet, if you can imagine such a thing. And if you hadn't noticed, Tiger has changed his game.
Here's CNN/Sports Illustrated correspondent Chip Thompson (ph).
CHIP THOMPSON, CNNSI CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When Tiger Woods won the Masters in 1997, most players would have considered that a crowning achievement -- not Tiger. For him, it signaled need for a change, a big change.
BUTCH HARMON, TIGER WOODS' COACH: When his timing was right, he was as good as anybody in the world. He had a difficult time controlling the distance of his short irons. He hit the ball too high in the air, which meant things carried too far. And he knew, for longevity, and to be able to chase this dream that he has of being the greatest player that ever lived, that he had to make some changes. So, after the Masters, when we started changing things, we looked at a long-range plan. It had to be done piece by piece.
We had the change the plane of the backswing. We had to change the -- to make it simple as I can for our viewers -- change the angles of his arms and the way he attacked the ball on the downswing, get his hands and arms more in front of his body -- quiet his body down a little, not take away the great speed he has, but quiet it down by quieting the footwork down. And this took a long time.
So, if we look at these swings here, the one on the left from '96, the one on the right now, you'll see quieter feet, you'll see a better plane of the left arm. In other words, it's not as flat. This position is -- the swing on the left of your screen, the left arm's pretty flat; the one on the right, the left arm gets up a little better. And this was the working process as we went through.
THOMPSON: At 24, he has 20 PGA Tour victories and three majors, and has a relentless desire to constantly improve game. And what drives this player, this player with the potential to be the very best in the history of the game: the very best player in the history of the game. HARMON: Tiger is probably the most driven athlete I've ever seen in any sport -- anyone I've ever met. And he's driven by one thing: Jack Nicklaus. It's Jack Nicklaus' records that he's after. He doesn't care about tournament records or scoring records. He really knows, to be considered the greatest player on the planet, which is one of his dreams and goals in life, is that he has to do what Jack Nicklaus did. And he can quote for you, at 24 years old, right where he is in comparison to Jack. And that's what drives him.
Jack's dominance was with his brain. I mean, not only was he a great talent golfer-wise, he was the smartest player since Ben Hogan. And I think Tiger is approaching that. I'm not sure he's quite there yet. He still makes a few, what I would call young mistakes: last year at the Tour Championship, trying to hit a rock, and then hit the ball, and do things like that. But I think that he's getting there. He's getting to be like Nicklaus was, where he realizes, especially hen we gets the lead, that all he has to do is play good golf, and it doesn't matter what anybody else does.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh my!
HARMON: The scary thing is, he can get a lot better than he is right now. He can get more consistent in all areas. He can drive the ball better. He can control the distance of his iron shots better. He's going to get stronger, which means for longevity during the point of year, he will play just as well at the end of the year, like he did last year, as he did at the beginning of the year.
I think you're starting to see him putt a lot more consistently. He's stayed pretty much with the same thing all year this year.
THOMPSON (on camera): With changes in his game and his swing that have led to enhanced creativity, look for Tiger to dominate the Open at St. Andrews, just like he dominated the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach.
From Las Vegas, Nevada, I'm Chip Thompson.
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