Tiger Woods announced over the weekend that he had selected little-known Chris Como as his new swing coach, sending out this Saturday morning tweet: "Happy to have Chris Como consulting and working with me on my swing. I’m excited to be back competing." Tiger confidante and former Stanford teammate Notah Begay played matchmaker for the two, putting an end to speculation that Woods was planning to fly solo upon his return to competition following an injury layoff.
So who is Chris Como? Based in Plano, Texas, he's listed among Golf Digest's "Best Young Teachers," and he sounds like a bit of a technician. “I like to study the golf swing in biomechanical terms,” Como wrote in Golf Digest. Sounds like a red flag; the last thing Woods needs to do is overthink. But Tiger has already begun downplaying Como's role, calling him a consultant rather than a teacher and raising questions of just how influential he'll be.
On one hand, Como is coming aboard Team Tiger at the perfect time; at least, former Woods mentor Hank Haney thinks so. “This is the easiest situation that any coach has been in,” he told Jason Sobel of the Golf Channel. “You couldn’t coach Tiger and have a friendlier scenario than Chris Como has. Look at the record Tiger had with Butch (Harmon); I was following that. Look at the record Tiger had with me; Sean (Foley) was following that.
“Let’s face it: The expectations are not super high at this point.”
In addition to being a clever, self-promoting zinger, Haney's comment prompted us to compare Tiger's performance under the tutelage of those three aforementioned mentors. Of course, there's a lot more to a player's success or failure than who's watching him on the range — especially when you're talking about the best player of the last 30 years — but Tiger certainly enjoyed varying degrees of success depending on who was helping call the shots.
Tiger and Butch Harmon
Harmon was Woods' mentor during his stunning ascendancy to the top of the golf world. With Harmon, Woods employed a more upright swing with a pronounced wrist cock.
Tiger under Butch:
• 31 PGA Tour Wins
• PGA Tour winning percentage of 26.8%
• 8 Major Championships — 1997, 2001, '02 Masters; 2000, '02 U.S. Open; 2000 British Open; 1999, 2000 PGA Championship
• 8 World Golf Championship Wins
• 5 Money Titles (1997, 1999-2002)
• 5 Times Low Scoring Average (1999-2003)
Quote: “I don’t think he needs a swing coach. If I were advising Tiger I’d tell him, ‘You’re the greatest player that ever lived, just go to the range and hit shots.’”
Tiger and Hank Haney
Haney flattened Woods swing but felt that Tiger was too dedicated to working out and not enough to practicing. But he also oversaw the period with the best winning percentage of Tiger's career.
Tiger Under Hank:
• 31 PGA Tour Wins
• PGA Tour winning percentage of 33.3%
• 6 Major Championships — 2005 Masters; 2008 U.S. Open; 2005, '06 British Open; 2006, '07 PGA Championship
• 4 Money Titles (2005-07, 2009)
• 4 Times Low Scoring Average (2005-07, 2009)
Quote: “I think he’d probably be better off just going and doing it himself. He’s the one that he’ll listen to the most. He’s the one that he’s always listened to the most."
Tiger and Sean Foley
Foley is known for his use of video and his rather unorthodox teaching style, but he had the misfortune of tutoring Woods during a particularly injury-plagued phase of his career.
• 8 PGA Tour Wins
• PGA Tour winning percentage of 14.5
• No Major Championships
• 1 Money Title (2013)
• Quote: "It was a lifelong ambition of mine to teach the best player of all time in our sport. I am both grateful for the things we had the opportunity to learn from one another, as well as the enduring friendship we have built. I have nothing but respect and admiration for him."