At least that’s what we’ve been led to believe over the last couple of months from a number of sources, these quotes below are simply from the first page of a google search for “Tiger Yips”. You’d be forgiven for believing it, after all we’ve seen shots most unlike one the greatest scramblers the game has ever seen, thins, fats and all sorts in between.
Bill Harmon, brother of Tiger’s former coach Butch, told me this: “[Tiger] does have the chipping yips. I also think he has the yips with the driver. Fear will make anyone ordinary. When a golfer is unsure of and fears impact around the greens it’s a totally different game.”
“Let's be serious. Tiger Woods has the yips.
It doesn't have anything to do with Tiger's new swing consultant, Chris Como, and what they're working on in his full swing. It isn't because the fixes in his long game are leaking into his chipping. It isn't a mechanical flaw. It isn't pressure.
It's the yips.” Hank Haney
“Tiger Woods has the yips. Woods has done a lot of astounding things in his career, but the past two days at the Phoenix Open were as startling as anything we've ever seen from the 14-time major winner. Tiger simply couldn't hit a chip shot or pitch shot onto the green. It's one of the more basic aspects of the game and an area every PGA Tour-caliber player has mastered. It was sad, uncomfortable, and amazing to watch from perhaps the greatest player of all time.”
“Hi, my name is Robert Damron, and I have the yips.
Phew, there ... I said it. Admitting you have a problem is the first step to getting better.
And believe it or not, I know a few guys with the same atrocious condition. You've probably heard of one of them. His name is Tiger Woods. He shows all the symptoms of my affliction even though he hasn't been formally diagnosed.”
Being fairly stringent and anal on definitions labelling Tiger with the yips is fundamentally flawed from the outset in my opinion, for me the yips are a neurological condition, focal dystonia. Psychological issues on these more delicate shots probably shouldn’t be labelled as the yips as the majority of the time they are not. But that is merely my opinion of the yips and I digress.
The psychological issues we see fairly commonly are almost certainly rooted in a technical malfunction, at some point the player has attempted to play some shots with a chronically mismatched set of components in their action and attempted to compensate in one way or another. This has then led to the psychological barriers that make the shots in question unbearable. This then requires a greater fix than technical alone as it’s become part of the mind game, therefore it’s not technical... or is it? Of course it is, just because it has become deep rooted in the mind doesn’t mean it’s no longer technical, it’s both.
So what should you do? Identify or have someone with the skills identify what is off, believe me it’s obvious when you know what you’re looking for. Once identified the mind needs to be distracted or the focus taken away from the mental mountain they have created. This dual approach almost always gets it done.
Back to Tiger for a moment though, you don’t hit shots like Tiger did on the 11th on Thursday if you have the yips by anyone’s definition. To create that much speed, that kind of contact and associated spin just wouldn’t happen. It needed a late release point and for the arc to be short on the followthrough, the bottom of the arc would have had a very sharp radius, about as non-flatspot as you could get, it needed to be precise. It was a thing of beauty. A yipper would have kept the shaft leaning forward, sharpened the leading edge and reduced the spin loft to a point where the ball would have just shot through. Poor short game technique pushes players towards the vicious cycle of comfort and flawed logic when attempting to prevent poor shots, it never gets fixed that way, what seems counter intuitive to most is usually what is really needed.
Here it is for your viewing pleasure, like I mentioned on Twitter a few days ago while sharing a superb video of his practice session you can hit all the creative shots from the right kind of delivery and also get quite a generous margin for error.