|Tiger Woods of the U.S. reacts as he barely misses a birdie on the 18th green during the final round of the WGC Bridgestone Invitational PGA golf tournament at Firestone Country Club in Akron, Ohio, August 7, 2011. (REUTERS/Aaron Josefczyk)
ATLANTA - Tiger Woods will have another chance to get a grip on his game this week at the PGA Championship.
Adjusting to a grip change is one of the things Woods -- who last week at the WGC-Bridgestone finished his first tournament since The Masters in April -- is having to get used to again this week.
"His grip was so weak. It's going back to where it's a little bit stronger," Canadian Sean Foley, Woods' coach, told Sun Media on the range at the Atlanta Athletic Club.
"If the grip gets that weak, then the orientation of the face at impact is always going to be open and the ball is going to start to the right."
For a right-handed golfer, a weak left-hand grip means the left hand is turned to the left on the club. Foley has Woods placing his left hand into a stronger position.
"It would feel significant to him. When he was a kid, it was really strong. We reworked it to where it's pretty much neutral," said Foley, who started working with Woods on a full-time basis a year ago at the PGA at Whistling Straits.
Foley's work with Woods has been interrupted by Woods' issues with his left knee and Achilles tendon which he hurt at the Masters and reinjured at The Players Championship in May.
After almost three months off to rehabilitate the injuries, Woods returned to play last week and finished tied for 37th at the Bridgestone with a score of one-over-par 281.
Going back to his old grip, which he used while working with coach Hank Haney, was one of his problems last week, Woods said.
"It's obviously not trusting the alignment and then the grip creeps over to where I used to have it and, again, it's old patterns," he said.
Foley said he was happy to see Woods -- who arrived late Tuesday afternoon for practice at the Atlanta Athletic Club -- get four rounds of competition under his belt without any recurrence of knee issues.
"We just wanted to make sure he stayed healthy for the whole week and he did. Now we're just going to need time for the scoring senses to come back," Foley said. "He hasn't played golf in three or four months. It all comes back to that. Everything you saw last week kind of comes back to the instincts of playing and reading greens and all that.
"We're pretty much at a point where we are just going to sustain where it's at. He said last week, 'the ball is not curving as much. Where I aim, it's kind of going there.' People go, 'well, just aim straight.'
"You know, when you haven't hit it straight off the tee for a few years and you aim down the middle, you're not as committed. It just takes time. It doesn't matter how many majors he has won or how many tournaments he has won. He's a human being."
Foley has been working on getting Woods to swing more like he did when he was a kid.
"It's in there. All those neuro-circuits, they're patterned, there's just other stuff on top of it," he said. "When he was with Hank they had a great level of success and all that, but I just think going forward at 35 -- and when I started he had had four knee surgeries -- we have to find ways ... he's not going to hit 600 balls a day anymore. When you hit 600 balls a day, you can get used to the feel of something and all. We're just trying to simplify it."
Woods was last in the field in driving last week, hitting just 22 of 56 fairways. With another driving performance like that here, with the tough Bermuda rough, he won't be around for the weekend and probably not for the FedEx Cup playoffs, either.