Tiger Woods struggled mightily with his driver at Torrey Pines, but still salvaged solid scores. Here's how you can, too.

By T.J. Auclair
PGA.com
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Problem Area: Off The Tee
Series: Lesson Learned

Published: Monday, January 29, 2018 | 10:19 a.m.
Outside of the shanks, or the yips, there's nothing that can be scarier for a golfer than a two-way miss.
 
If you're unfamiliar with a "two-way miss," it's essentially when you stand on a tee box and have no idea where the ball is going. It could go left, it could go right, but it's not finding that fairway.
 
The worst part about the two-way miss is that you can't plan for it. At least if you're consistently hitting shots left or right, you can adjust your aim and still get the ball in play.
 
This was the story of the return of Tiger Woods at the Farmers Insurance Open. 
 
 
In a week where Woods hit just 17 fairways over 72 holes -- the lowest number by three in his PGA Tour career -- he was still one of only seven players in the 156-man field to record four rounds at par or better.
 
With rounds of 72-71-70-72, Woods tied for 23rd at 3-under 285 in his first full tournament since 2015.
 
You've got to wonder how much better that could have been with just a few more fairways hit.
 
What Woods did do, however, should serve as a lesson to all of us: Even when you don't have your best stuff -- particularly off the tee -- you can still grind to save a round... or in this case, a tournament.
 
Lou Guzzi, 2013 PGA National Teacher of the Year, provided us with some tips to salvage a round when the driver is doing, well, everything but what you'd like it to do.
 
1. Take your medicine.
 
"It might be one of the oldest clichés in golf, but it's true," Guzzi said. "If you find yourself in a bad spot off the tee, worry first and foremost about getting yourself back into play. Accept the fact that it's a stroke gone and go from there. If you make a decision based on temptation -- like trying to thread the needle through tree branches -- it might work out once, but you're going to pile up the double and triple bogeys quickly."
 
2. Control your emotions and club down off the tee.
 
"OK, ideally, you want to be able to hit driver off the tee," Guzzi, "But if you're not doing yourself any good by continuing to hit it, club down. Use something that will keep you in play. Sure, it'll make the course a lot longer, but it's also a lot easier to play approach shots from the fairway. A 2-iron was always my go-to when I struggled with the driver. If you think you still need driver, take something off it. Maybe you're missing fairways because you're swinging too hard and trying to hit it too far. Adjust with an 80 percent swing versus going all out. Have those two different driver swing speeds, or feels, when you're playing. 
 
3. Never quit.
 
"Tiger Woods never quits and, as a result, probably gets more out of a difficult round than most players in history," Guzzi said. "He's a fighter. That's the bottom line. He takes it all one shot at a time. When he hits a wayward tee shot -- and there were plenty of them at Torrey Pines -- he makes the right decision on what to do next. 'What's my road to get back in play?'"
 
 

T.J. Auclair is a Senior Interactive Producer for PGA.com and has covered professional golf since 1998, traveling to over 60 major championships. You can follow him on Twitter, @tjauclair.


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