By matthew rudy

Golf Digest Middle East - - The Golf Life Swing Thoughts -

f you were hand­i­cap­ping the list of po­ten­tial re­place­ments for Sean Fo­ley as Tiger Woods’ swing coach when their breakup was an­nounced in Au­gust, Chris Como would have been lumped into the “field” line at the end.

The Texas-based in­struc­tor is well known in­side the wonky world of golf biome­chan­ics, but ca­sual ob­servers prob­a­bly wouldn’t recog­nise him if he were giv­ing a les­son in the next stall at the range.

That all changed in Novem­ber when Woods tweeted that he was pleased to have Como con­sult­ing on his swing. Sud­denly, Como went from

golfdi­gest. com be­ing a rel­a­tively anony­mous mem­ber of Golf Di­gest’s Best Young Teach­ers list—work­ing with tour pros such as Trevor Im­mel­man, Aaron Bad­de­ley and Jamie Love­mark —to the guy in the manager’s seat in the New York Yan­kees dugout, fig­u­ra­tively speak­ing.

That Woods didn’t pick a more vet­eran teacher like Chuck Cook or Claude Har­mon III might have sur­prised some, but Como, 37, has a set of skills that makes him right for the job—at least for now.

For four years Como taught a full sched­ule at Gle­nea­gles Coun­try Club in Plano, Texas, and on tour while tak­ing classes to­ward a mas­ter’s de­gree in biome­chan­ics at Texas Woman’s Uni­ver­sity. At TWU, Como stud­ied un­der Dr. YoungHoo Kwon, con­sid­ered one of the fore­most ex­perts in golf biome­chan­ics and how ath­letic mo­tion can lead to in­juries.

Kwon and Como pub­lished two pa­pers for Sports Biome­chan­ics, a schol­arly jour­nal, and are work­ing on new projects.

“Chris has worked re­ally hard ever since I met him,” Kwon says. “And he’s go­ing to play a unique

fe­bru­ary 2015 role in con­nect­ing the worlds of golf prac­tice and science in the com­ing years.”

None of that knowl­edge would have mat­tered if Como didn’t have the abil­ity to con­vert tech-speak to tour-speak—and if he didn’t have an en­trée into Woods’ tightly in­su­lated world. En­ter No­tah Be­gay III. The player- turned- broad­caster is a long­time Woods friend and for­mer team­mate at Stan­ford Uni­ver­sity. Be­gay knows Como well from the time they spent to­gether in the Dal­las area and thought he could of­fer the right com­bi­na­tion of ex­per­tise, in­quis­i­tive­ness and low-key calm that Woods wanted from a swing ad­vi­sor. Be­gay set up a meet­ing, and it clicked. Como got to work in Oc­to­ber when Woods started hit­ting full shots again af­ter his lat­est back in­jury.

“I had this plan in my head of what I wanted my swing to look like, and what I wanted to get out of my body,” Woods says. “I wanted to align my­self with some­body who feels the same way. Chris’ view of what my swing should be fits my view of where I should be go­ing.”

Woods added that he was im­pressed with Como’s ea­ger­ness to learn. “To him, it’s not ac­cept­able to not have an an­swer,” Woods says. “He al­ways wants to find that an­swer to why some­thing is do­ing what. One of the rea­sons he re­searches as much as he does is to know why.”

De­ter­min­ing the whats and whys in Woods’ swing—which so far seems to cen­tre on rein­cor­po­rat­ing a looser, freer circa-2000 ac­tion—is prob­a­bly the eas­i­est part of Como’s job de­scrip­tion. The big­ger chal­lenges will be get­ting the no­to­ri­ously fickle Woods to com­pletely buy into the pro­gram and man­ag­ing the megawatt me­dia at­ten­tion.

Hank Haney knows that world from the in­side and the side­line. He started work­ing with Woods in 2004 and was happy to give Fo­ley a turn in the skil­let af­ter the 2010 Masters. He be­lieves Woods’ ini­tial de­scrip­tion of Como’s role as a “con­sul­tant” was in­ten­tional, to take pres­sure off the teacher.

“He’s giv­ing him­self room so that if Chris isn’t at a tour­na­ment, he doesn’t have to ex­plain him­self ev­ery time, and the me­dia won’t start say­ing Chris is go­ing to get fired,” Haney says. “The other part is that Tiger wants to have own­er­ship of what’s go­ing on. When you have a con­sul­tant, the con­sul­tant isn’t mak­ing the ul­ti­mate de­ci­sion. Tiger’s mak­ing the calls.”

One thing that prob­a­bly won’t change from when Haney was on the job is the dearth of specifics about what teacher and player are work­ing on. In Como’s first weeks on duty, he didn’t re­veal much more than a few generic plat­i­tudes when re­porters were within earshot, and he has de­clined many in­ter­view re­quests.

“I don’t see the ad­van­tage to Chris get­ting quoted in a bunch of ar­ti­cles,” Haney says. “He’s a low-key guy, so I don’t think that’s a big thing for him any­way. He knows that if you stay with Tiger and he wins, you’re go­ing to get more pub­lic­ity than you ever dreamed of. The best way to stay on the job is to keep a low pro­file and get re­sults.”

Como is Tiger’s fourth coach in 19 years as a pro.

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