Tiger on hitting the hero shot—and what you can learn


You’ve seen this before, and maybe, just maybe, done it yourself. A golfer hits the ball a mile off-line, and then tries to pull off an insane recovery, usually after announcing something like, “Hey, you never know till you try” or “I didn’t come here to pitch out.” Foolish words from someone about to blow up their scorecard.

Even Tiger Woods, with his incredible skills, is careful to weigh the risks before taking on a difficult escape, as he discusses in Episode 9 of “My Game: Tiger Woods,” produced by GOLFTV and Golf Digest. “What are the percentages? Let’s not compound this thing, let’s not make a double or triple,” Tiger says. “I try to instill that in amateurs I play with: What’s the worst you’re going to make if you just wedge out?”

The conflict—be a hero or play it safe—never ends. Tiger admits he has tried some treacherous shots over the years, but he says not without good reason. “A lot of the shots you’ve seen me hit from bad spots, for the most part they’ve been from good angles,” Tiger says. “You’re not going to pull off every shot, but if I tried it, I thought I could.”

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Tiger’s point here is commitment, accepting the situation and, if you decide to go for it, believing you can make it happen. “If you’re able to hit a shot that crooked, there’s no reason you can’t hit a shot that crooked to get out,” Tiger says. That said, even Tiger has the inner dialogue about risk: “What’s the worst score I’m going to make? If it’s a bogey, I can birdie the next hole and be all square. Making double or worse takes more than one hole.”

Tiger says he’s better now about playing conservatively and trusting other parts of his game to help him save the hole. “Physically, I just don’t have the speed like I used to to hit some of those shots. I still see the gaps if I’m in a bad spot, but I think, I just can’t. I’ll pitch out, wedge it, and make my putt.”

Watch Tiger’s full episode on recovery play and see him demonstrate some mind-boggling escape shots. Click here to sign up for the entire 12-part “My Game: Tiger Woods” series (in the U.S., China and Korea) or and click here for the rest of the world.

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