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He would win four straight money titles. Five consecutive scoring titles.

Harmon, at the time, would say of Tiger in the book Raising the Bar , "The mechanics have gotten so good. His set-up posture is perfect, the plane of his swing is perfect Everything about it is textbook. Some players get in a zone, play good for a while, but they never swing like Tiger's swinging now. A typical workday starts every morning at and extends more than 12 hours -- through three workouts, two range sessions, two practices on the putting green, one short-game session and two nine-hole practice rounds -- until it ends for dinner at 7.

Day after day after day. So intense is his focus that he routinely experiences self-described blackout moments on the course; he cannot recall actually hitting many of the shots that everyone else remembers him hitting, regaining consciousness only as his back finishes its rotation and as his hands come to rest just above his left ear, the ball rising into the distance. To put his crying newborn daughter to sleep in the middle of the night, he did not simply rock her while watching TV; he has described carrying the infant to the gym in his house, situating himself on the leg press machine with her on his lap and doing repetitions until she had fallen asleep.

His only documented outdoor pastimes other than golf are spearfishing and free diving swimming at great depths in the ocean without the benefit of an oxygen tank. Nothing about his life is halfway: not just the lifting and cardio sessions pursued by any world-class athlete, but commando training sessions with the Navy SEALs. Not a dalliance here or there but whole harems at his command.

Ah, command. I want to own mine. He is said to have never mishit a ball. He was also a self-described autistic. Hogan, winner of nine majors, was 9 when his father committed suicide at their home. In adulthood he was an introverted obsessive-compulsive who turned his dark, burning mind toward an all-consuming effort to perfect his golf stroke. Golf, as it turns out, can be something like a panacea for those with troubled minds, allowing them to exert control over at least a portion of their lives, through one soothingly repeatable act. March , swing change No.

Tour events since prior change: Wins: Majors: Wins: 7. World rank at time of change: 1. Woods at times has hinted that injuries to his left knee forced him to abandon the Harmon swing. On the follow-through of his driver swing under Harmon, Woods would occasionally snap his left knee erect to gain leverage and produce additional clubhead speed.

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Many in golf doubt that the Harmon swing could have caused this kind of knee problem. Regardless, over the years these injury problems have given Woods a ready-made reason for changing his swing: If he wants to keep playing at all, Woods says, he needs to rebuild his swing around his injuries. No doubt, there's a degree of truth to that. But it's clearly not the whole story. The term "perfectionist," although dulled by popular usage, is in fact a clinical one. It can be both highly motivational and a dark force; depression, anxiety, addiction and OCD are risk factors for people who exhibit perfectionist traits.

And those displayed by Woods are legion. He's such a perfectionist, so much so that I've stopped bringing my video camera to the tournaments, because he wants to look at it and nitpick everything. As Haney has written, "In his mind, satisfaction is the enemy of success. His whole approach was to delay gratification and somehow stay hungry. They're always thinking about their mistakes or ways to get better. If they can't stop thinking about these things, that's when it becomes an obsession.

It has been well documented that Woods' golfing mind requires constant stimulation, engaged only when there is something to work on, some mountain to climb. Many touring pros talk about "maintenance," about achieving a swing that needs only to be fine-tuned. Players like Davis Love III and Fred Couples have gone their entire careers basically in maintenance mode; Woods would be pathologically bored by this.

Haney has speculated that Woods left Harmon because Harmon urged his pupil to maintain. It was as if he needed the stimulation and the challenge to stay motivated. It was a compulsion. Says Flett: "We have the axiom that nobody's perfect. Well, in extreme cases of perfectionism, it's like that doesn't matter.

They say, 'Yeah, sure, nobody's perfect. But I'm going to be the first. Haney had helped Woods' good friend, neighbor and mentor Mark O'Meara rebuild his swing following O'Meara's rookie season -- perhaps one of the most successful overhauls in the history of the game. And it was Haney who would teach Woods a new swing, a swing that, ostensibly, once and for all, would eradicate that most hateful liability: getting stuck.

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Woods played often with O'Meara at Isleworth. He saw that the man never seemed to miss a fairway -- straightest driver of the ball in his day. It drove Woods nuts. If he could only drive like O'Meara and do everything else like himself, he'd never lose. To get there, he was willing to rethink every notion he had of the golf swing. I'll get to work: Adopt a one-plane swing, like Hogan's. Laid-off at the top. Weaken the grip? Hell, I'll move the club to the palm, eliminate the fingers -- a radical change necessitating other radical changes. It'll take tens of thousands of balls on the range to ingrain it, trade another two years for perfection.

Open and British Open in , the only player ever to do so in the same season. From that moment on, the secret took on a life of its own. Even after Hogan claimed to have revealed the secret in a follow-up article just one year later -- a highly unorthodox cupped wrist at the top of his swing that he said prevented hooks and generated a controlled fade -- some said Hogan held back on the truth.

Today, most believe that Hogan sold Life a bill of goods. That's why he hit balls 'til his hands bled. The mystique of Hogan's secret has persisted probably because the game of golf, in all its confounding dimensions, is prone to the flowering of cults -- whole schools of swing theory that promise a cure, the one technique or tip or system that will allow a player, almost magically, to master the art of hitting a golf ball. But no swing cult has had more influence over the modern game than the one that has bloomed around a strange and gnomic instructional text called The Golfing Machine.

Written by a former Boeing engineer and high handicapper named Homer Kelley and first published in , the book is more like a technical manual, based on precepts of mechanical engineering.

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There are those who have spent their lives studying it. An academy exists in Oregon that certifies instructors in the intricacies of Kelley's teachings. O'Grady has a reputation to this day as one of the modern game's great ball strikers -- and great eccentrics. He played righthanded but is said to have been ambidextrous. Some claim he knows more about the golf swing than anyone else alive.

A reclusive figure, he is difficult to find today. He may reside in Palm Springs, Calif. Still, O'Grady is the trunk from which has grown a kind of coaching tree, having tutored a number of swing instructors who work with tour players, including Andy Plummer and Mike Bennett. And at about the time that Woods and Haney split Haney wrote in his book that his decision to leave was hastened by Woods' growing disinterest in the coach's tutelage , a rumor spread around the tour: that the greatest player in the world had sought out O'Grady for help.

If true, it would have been like Mariano Rivera seeking pitching advice from Mitch Williams.

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August , swing change No. Won: Wins: 6. In the wake of Haney's departure, Woods had played by far the worst golf of his career. He was seen skying his 3-wood off the tee. He was seen hitting fat two inches behind the ball. And his swing would still get stuck.


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To some in the golf instructional world, the method is an example of yet another zany swing cult, a fad that counsels, in simple terms, staying centered over the ball through the backswing, keeping one's weight on the left side of the body, stacking it there and then finishing the follow-through with an upward tilt in the shoulders.

Rather than the twisting of a traditional golf swing, it is a piston action down into the ball. It is, in that way, as radical a departure from the past years of golf as exists today. To Woods, these ideas might well have represented something else. Can't get your weight stuck behind you if it never gets behind you. A Canadian instructor about the same age as his newest pupil, Foley has the demeanor of the amiable philosophy major who stays up late at night in the dorm room discussing mind-blowing subjects.

He enjoys debunking pre-conceived notions. He is apt to call you "bro.

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And like many in the newer generation of swing coaches, he is an avid user of TrackMan, a radar system introduced 10 years ago that measures the golf swing and what occurs at impact. It spews out data: clubhead speeds, attack angles, launch angles, trajectories. The more zealotic of TrackMan's advocates view golf instruction prior to the system as a pre-Copernican world of sophistry and superstition.


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Foley, to a degree, is one of them. It's clear that Woods, in his fervor for swing analysis and theory, is fascinated by all this. In news conferences at which he would once discuss shots "fitting my eye," he now talks about his "numbers.