Woods adapting as Masters nears

There was that same old final-round confidence that always used to fit Tiger Woods like his custom-made bright red shirt and black pants. Last Sunday, there were the same old roars and the same old big television ratings as Woods won an official PGA Tour event for the first time in 30 months.

If, a week from Sunday, he wins a fifth Masters title and 15th major championship, there will be many who say, “Same old Tiger.”

Except that Woods will know better.

As he heads to Augusta National this week, bringing the same old torrent of attention with him, Woods is dealing with changes inside him and around him. “This is the start of his second career because of getting over the shame, getting over the past, starting anew,” said Curtis Strange, who captained the 2002 U.S. Ryder Cup team and will call the Masters on ESPN.

Whether the changes are good or bad, or too little or too much, is a matter of opinion. But change is there. And it seems that is just the way he likes it.

“He is the most engaged when he is changing. It’s when he is the most motivated. He likes to be working on things,” said Hank Haney, who represents one of the big changes after resigning as Woods’ swing coach in 2010 and being replaced by Sean Foley, who introduced Woods to a new swing that has begun to click.

Haney wrote in his new book, “The Big Miss: My Years Coaching Tiger Woods,” that Woods “never allowed himself to be satisfied.” At a breakfast gathering in Manhattan to promote the book Thursday, Haney spoke of his former pupil’s refusal to stand pat, be it in his workout regimen, his backswing or on a ski slope: “I really think it’s necessary for him to be great.”


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