Why is Tiger Woods chewing gum at the 2019 Masters?
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Why is Tiger Woods chewing gum at the 2019 Masters?



Tiger Woods is wearing Nike mock turtlenecks this week at the 2019 Masters, making people think back to his last Masters win in 2005. However, this week Woods has been doing something different than when he beat Chris DiMarco in a playoff for his fourth green jacket.

Tiger Woods is chewing gum. All the time. And he's chewing it with the same kind of massage Payne Stewart used to put on his gum as he played in his plus-fours.

So, why, after more than 20 years as a pro, is Tiger Woods chewing gum?

Part of the answer may lie in an explanation given by other players.

Phil Mickelson has suddenly started to chew gum in his rounds. In a New York Times story, Mickelson explains he believes there is plenty of data and research to suggest there are competitive benefits to chewing gum. Mickelson said, “The chewing aspect stimulates the frontal cortex.”

Other research suggests chewing gum relieves stress because the jaw it not able to clench up and hold in stress. A player is less likely to grind their teeth in a tough situation as well. Further research suggests people concentrate for longer when they're chewing gum, so they can focus on a grinding task like trying to build a round in one of golf's biggest championships.

While there's a set of data to suggest there's reason to chew gum -- any kind of gum -- some speculate Mickelson and Woods are chewing CBD gum, maybe from CBD oil.

CBD is short for Cannabidiol, and it's a liquid extracted from the flowers and buds of marijuana that has become popular as marijuana has become legal for medical or recreational purposes across more of the United States. At the moment, some 30 states have legalized CBD oil as a result of legalizing some form of marijuana possession or use. Another 17 states have specific laws around CBD oil. CBD oil is thought to have calming properties, as well anti-inflammatory effects. While CBD oil is not well absorbed orally by the body, the potential calming nature of the CBD oil combined with the motion of chewing gum could have a double effect.

The PGA Tour and World Anti-Doping Agency don't consider CBD oil as a performance-enhancing drug, but rather a supplement. The proliferation of CBD oil products -- drops, gum, lotions, wipes -- has spread throughout the PGA Tour. But people notice when Tiger Woods or Phil Mickelson do something different more than the average PGA Tour card holder.

Regardless of what's in the gum recipe, it appears there's some more anecdotal evidence in favor of chewing something.

At the 2017 British Open Championship, Jordan Spieth chewed gum at the suggestion of teacher Cameron McCormick. While he was skeptical, he seemed to believe the routine of chewing gum calmed him down and distracted him some from the task at hand.

"I was 1 under through two and I thought I better keep it in," he said. "Payne Stewart used to do it and it served him well. I think mint has some sort of effect on nerves, but I was still feeling them a bit out there."