Mar 17th, 2016
Matt Every's Case Of 'The Driver Yips'
Words: Daniel Owen Photography: Getty Images
Matt Every has won the Arnold Palmer Invitational for the past two years. The Spiv has backed him as great value at 100-1. But there’s a problem. He’s got the driver yips. Well, it’s what it sounds like to us. “I get over a tee shot and think, ‘What am I doing?’”
"After I won here last year, I went through this, I guess, a funk – kind of like blacking out over the ball. I hit these foul balls with my driver, and you just can't compete out here when you're reloading on the tee. And then that stuff builds up. Like, you hit one and then it's in your head and it's hard to forget them.”
He sounds like one of us. A random tee shot you can't explain is part and parcel of golf for the rest of us. Every's bad shot is always a high block, often having to be followed by a shout of “FORERIGHT!!!”.
Golf is a truly mental game, and Every is working with a psychologist to get through his issues. But he’s not the first player to suffer with this form of the yips. The term was first coined by Tommy Armour, as a “brain spasm that impairs the short game.”
It’s fair to say that it it’s normally associated with putting and chipping. Check out these from Tiger.
Or this putt from Ernie Els.
But, as Every is demonstrating, it’s not just something that affects the short game.
Hank Haney suffered with the driver yips for years, having to create a totally unique routine to be able to get a tee ball away in the right direction. According to a piece in The New Yorker by David Owen: "Haney drew his driver back high in the air while turning to look at the clubhead, took a baseball-like practice swing well above the ball—then, immediately, took the club all the way back again and swung.”
Or Kevin Na, who was struggling with golf OCD a few years ago:
“I changed my setup starting at the Masters last year,” Na said in 2012 while leading the Players championship. “I was trying to get more forward, trying to get the backswing more up. And because my balance at the setup is totally different, I don't feel comfortable.
"I'm trying to get comfortable with my waggles. It's usually a little waggle, half-waggle, little waggle, half-waggle, and boom, supposed to pull the trigger. But if it doesn't work, I've got to go in pairs. So it'll go four,... and if it doesn't work, it'll go six; and after tha.... there's a lot going on in my head.”
Every’s only wins on tour have been at Bayhill. In 2015 his only top 10 was at the Arnold Palmer. It’s not as if he’s a Tiger Woods dominating the tournament though. It’s just that it's almost the only tournament he plays well in. He’s only made four cuts in nine starts this year. He made the cut at the Valspar but while he has been getting better with his driving, he hit a yipper on the seventh hole in the first round, a massive slice that led to a bogey.
"I'm just trying to keep it simple over the ball. For me, I don't think it's that technical. I think it's more trust, and that just comes with repetition. I'm trying to practice less and play more, especially when I'm home.”
Fingers crossed Matt. We feel your pain.
Having similar problems?