Faldo goes in-depth in a Tiger Woods Q&A

By Randall MellNovember 2, 2011, 5:09 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. – Next week Tiger Woods returns to Australia, site of his last victory.

It’s been almost two years since he won the Australian Masters (Nov. 15, 2009), but Woods will be looking to rekindle his best form in a bid to help the United States win the Presidents Cup in his trip Down Under. Woods will tee it up in next week’s Australian Open as a warm up with the Presidents Cup to follow the week after.

Six-time major championship winner and Golf Channel analyst Nick Faldo believes Woods will eventually win again, but he believes Woods’ run of dominance is over and doubts he will be able to break Jack Nicklaus’ record for major championship victories. He’s surprised Fred Couples made Woods a Presidents Cup captain’s pick and wouldn’t blame Keegan Bradley if he were angry about it. And Faldo believes swing coach Sean Foley has introduced some difficult changes for Woods to juggle amid all the other change in his life.

Faldo was at the Nick Faldo Institute shooting episodes of '7 Nights at the Academy' (airing Dec. 12-18 on Golf Channel) when GolfChannel.com caught up with him for a Tiger assessment before Woods tees it up in back-to-back weeks in Australia.

When Tiger Woods crashed into the fire hydrant and tree in his neighbor’s yard nearly two years ago, what, as a player, did he really lose that night?

I think the whole aura of Tiger has changed dramatically. He’s quite a sensitive guy, so to try to come out after global humiliation with the comments, let alone the criticism, it’s pretty difficult. Golf is a game where you stand there for an awful long time, and you can easily be wondering, `What are people thinking? I have the whole world looking at me, and now they’re looking at me differently.’ I think all those things would affect you.

I know from my experience, once I tried to get more involved in business, and I went through divorce as well, your quality of concentration goes. Your ability to totally engross yourself in practice for a day, that changes quite dramatically. From going out to the golf course, tipping out your balls, spending a great day practicing from 9 to 5, I doubt he’s had a day with anything like the freedom he had before. Maybe it’s starting to come back a little bit. And you’ve got a young family as well that you’re separated from, it’s very difficult, the emotion of that.

The bottom line is that since he won two years ago in Australia, I don’t know what is still the same in his life. Almost everything has changed, from the physical to the technical, the emotional side as well, everything seems different, so I think he’s still got a lot to contend with.

Do you think he will get it back?

Well, he won’t have the dominance back, I doubt, nothing like the dominance he had back from 2000, because he was a totally clear thinking man on a mission, a rampage. His own self-believe, his own self-confidence, would have been at 100 percent, and once that gets chipped away, he’s not the same on the golf course.

How’s that affect what we’re seeing from Tiger?

In the past, Tiger could make things happen. A great player has that ability. A great sportsman has the ability to make things happen, without it being detrimental, Somebody special, like a Michael Jordan, he can make things happen when you really need it.  Now when Tiger tries to make things happen, it goes the other way. If he forces it now, he doesn’t hit the shot. That will chip his self-belief. As time goes on, that gets dented more when you see poor shots.

I believe he will find a way to come back and win again because he’s extremely determined, but it won’t be anything like the foregone conclusion it was before. When Tiger had a 54-hole lead in the past, he had a ridiculous record of finishing it off. Now, like the rest of us, you put yourself through the ringer on Sunday afternoon finding out how to win again. Before, it was just, get to the lead and steam roll your way through. What’s changed is that in the past, Tiger would have to fend off one or two players, the obvious names like Phil [Mickelson] or Ernie [Els], but now it’s different. The best example we have is this year’s Masters, when there were eight to 10 guys within a shot. In the past, if Tiger got to a certain number, he probably would have won.

Because of Tiger’s aura, it was totally natural for other players in the past to wonder `What is Tiger up to?’ Consciously, or subconsciously, you’re giving energy to: `Where’s Tiger? Oh, there he is on the range, or, there he is on the leaderboard.’ Now guys are basically thinking, `I don’t need to worry about that because I know he’s got enough on his own plate getting himself back together again. I’ll worry about myself.’ I think that’s had quite an effect on all of these guys.

It’s a new era with new golfers. You’ve got Luke Donald at No. 1, guys bubbling under like Adam Scott and Jason Day. You’ve got Rory McIlroy and Keegan Bradley winning majors. I’m thinking we on the verge of a new Big Five or Big Six.

Now we have this shotgun run of whatever it’s been, [seven] first-time major championship winners. So we haven’t gotten our Big Six right now. We’ve probably got 20 good golfers, but I think it will be interesting if we get back to six dominant players who start winning more than one major. It will be interesting if that transpires over the next couple seasons.

You’ve been quoted having doubts Tiger will break Jack’s record now. What do you think?

Well, everybody wants you to say something, so they can say you were wrong, but that’s going to be really difficult for Tiger because he needs to win five more majors at 35. If this were just a golfing slump for two years . . . but it isn’t. He’s had a mental and emotional slump, and a physical one, too, because his body’s broken down, and a lot of that has to do with the pressures and the mind. It’s got to come out somewhere, so it came out in his (neck) first. And now how really good is the knee? You have got to have 100 percent trust that that knee is going to survive all circumstances. So, I don’t know if he’s going to have that. There’s got to be a little voice in the back of your mind, where you have to compromise here and there, where you think maybe I can’t quite try the shot I tried when I was at Augusta that caused the knee to flare up again.

The word 'can’t’ is new to the Tiger Woods’ vocabulary, isn’t it?

Tiger’s dealt with success from 2 years old. Everything was success, success, success for 30-plus years, and all of a sudden, bang, now he has to deal with failures, fears, what people think, all sorts of things. The bottom line is he’s determined and will probably find a way to win again, but it will be a struggle. He may walk away from his next win thinking it might be the biggest win of his career because `I found out how to win again.’

A lot’s been debated about U.S. captain Fred Couples choosing Tiger Woods for the Presidents Cup team. What did you think of the pick?

Very surprised at that. You’re taking a risk keeping Keegan Bradley out. You win a major, that’s disappointing when you’re a young rookie, and you’re that good, and you can’t make the team. I would be a little miffed at that one. You picked a guy, sure he’s Tiger Woods, but he’s injured. At the time of the pick, he had only played six competitive rounds through the summer, and nothing like himself. He’s played a few more rounds, but he’s still just finding it.

The Presidents Cup is a team event. We definitely know it’s a little more pressure. You don’t want to let your partner down, you don’t want to let your team down, but this may be a time when Tiger really needs that to respond. [About his Ryder and President Cup records], when you’re a lead man, you’re a scalp, everybody wants you. You’re a feather for somebody’s cap, so they go at you, but he’s hit some bad shots in the Ryder Cup. If he stands up on the tee in Australia and hits a couple drives in the trees and bushes on that course, that will give a lot of confidence to the International team, so he’s under a lot of pressure. He might really want that to get his golfing juices going again.

A lot’s being debated about Tiger’s swing changes under Sean Foley. What do you make of their work together so far?

Again, it’s a lot of changes for Tiger. I was a little surprised with some of the moves. I’ve talked to Sean a couple times, and he’s said you’ve got to work through a couple positions to get to the next position, but it’s taking a fair amount of time. Some of the positions I personally don’t like.

I don’t think Tiger’s as good a bunker player as he used to be, but I don’t know whether that has anything to do with Sean. I know Sean’s changed a lot of his stuff, putting, chipping. Tiger was the best putter in the world, had the best short game in the world. To tinker and change those, I would have thought that was quite dangerous, but I don’t know exactly how much they’ve changed that, so it’s kind of assuming. And another thing is that Tiger’s beefed up. A couple of his swings look quite labored, they don’t have quite that flow and speed. It’s still a lot of conscious thought to the swing. It’s not quite flowing the way it used to be.

Simpson WDs from RSM, tweets his father is ill

By Rex HoggardNovember 18, 2017, 10:45 pm

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Following rounds of 67-68, Webb Simpson was in 12th place entering the weekend at the RSM Classic before he withdrew prior to Saturday’s third round.

On Saturday afternoon, Simpson tweeted that he withdrew due to an illness in his family.

“Thanks to [Davis Love III] for being such a great tournament host. I [withdrew] due to my dad being sick and living his last days,” Simpson posted on Twitter on Saturday afternoon.


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Simpson’s father, Sam, caddied for his son during amateur events, and Webb Simpson started playing golf after following his father to the course on family vacations to North Carolina.

“My dad is probably the kindest man I know. He’s always been the guy who knew everyone, everyone knew him, everyone wanted to be around him,” Simpson said in a 2015 interview with David Feherty. “He taught me the game. He’s always been one of those dads who loved to be active with their kids.”

Before play began on Thursday, Luke Donald withdrew after being hospitalized with chest pain. Tests indicated the Englishman’s heart was fine and he returned home to undergo more tests.

New old putter helps Kirk (64) jump into contention

By Rex HoggardNovember 18, 2017, 10:43 pm

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Chris Kirk’s ball-striking has been nearly flawless this fall. Unfortunately, the same couldn’t be said for his putting.

In four events this season, Kirk ranks 143rd in strokes gained: putting, but his fortunes have changed this week, thanks at least in part to a return to something familiar.

Kirk switched to an older style of putter similar to the one he used on the Web.com Tour in 2010 to earn his PGA Tour card.

“It's nice to be back in contention again,” said Kirk, who is alone in second place, three strokes behind front-runner Austin Cook. “It's been a little while for me. But I felt great out there today, I felt really comfortable, and so hopefully it will be the same way tomorrow.”


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Kirk is 25th in strokes gained: putting this week and has converted several crucial putts, including a 30-footer for birdie at the 17th hole on his way to a third-round 64.

His putting is similar to 2013 when he won the RSM Classic, and his improved play on the greens has given the 32-year-old confidence going into Sunday’s final round.

“I'll probably be relatively comfortable in that situation, and thankfully I've been there before,” Kirk said. “It's still not easy by any means, but hopefully I'll be able to group together a bunch of good shots and see what it gives me.”

Rookie Cook (66) handling RSM like a pro

By Rex HoggardNovember 18, 2017, 10:24 pm

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Of all the impressive statistics Austin Cook has put up this week at the RSM Classic – he is first in strokes gained: tee to green, strokes gained: approach to the green and scrambling – the one number that stands out is 49.

That’s how many holes Cook went this week without a bogey or worse, a moment that prompted his caddie, Kip Henley, to joke, “The dream is over.”

That loss of momentum at the 14th hole didn’t last long, with the PGA Tour rookie making birdie at the next hole on his way to a third-round 66 and a three-stroke lead.

“Bouncing back from any bogey with a birdie is nice and helps get the number right back. Being my only bogey of the week so far, it was really nice to be able to get that back on the next hole,” said Cook, who leads Chris Kirk at 18 under par. “Going into tomorrow with a three-shot lead instead of a two-shot lead I think is crucial.”


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Although this is the first time Cook has held a 54-hole lead on the Tour, in fact it’s just his fourth start as a Tour member, he has experienced Sunday pressure before. In 2015, he began the final round at the Shell Houston Open one stroke off the lead held by Jordan Spieth.

“Back then my game was good as well, but mentally I've grown a lot and matured a lot and been able to kind of just let small things on the golf course roll off my shoulder instead of getting tied up in one little small mistake,” said Cook, who closed with a 75 at the ’15 Shell Houston Open to tie for 11th.

Park collapses; leaderboard chaos at CME

By Nick MentaNovember 18, 2017, 8:47 pm

Sung-Hyun Park started the day with a three-shot lead and slowly gave it all back over the course of a 3-over 75, leaving the CME Group Tour Championship and a host of season-long prizes up for grabs in Naples. Here’s where things stand through 54 holes at the LPGA finale, where Michelle Wie, Ariya Jutanugarn, Suzann Pettersen and Kim Kaufman share the lead.

Leaderboard: Kaufman (-10), Wie (-10), Jutanugarn (-10), Pettersen (-10), Stacy Lewis (-9), Karine Icher (-9), Austin Ernst (-9), Lexi Thompson (-9), Jessica Korda (-9), Pernilla Lindberg (-9)

What it means: It wasn’t the Saturday she wanted, but Park, who already wrapped up the Rookie of the Year Award, is still in position for the sweep of all sweeps. With a victory Sunday, she would claim the CME Group Tour Championship, the Race to CME Globe’s $1 million jackpot, the Rolex Player of the Year Award, and the money title, as she ascends to No. 1 in the Rolex world ranking. Meanwhile, Thompson, too, could take the $1 million and Player of the Year. As those two battle for season-long prizes, a host of other notable names – Wie, Jutanugarn, Pettersen, Korda, Lewis and Charley Hull (-8) – will fight for the Tour Championship.

Round of the day: Kaufman made four birdies on each side in a bogey-free 8 under-par 64. A lesser-known name on a stacked leaderboard, she seeks her first LPGA victory.

Best of the rest: Amy Yang will start the final round two behind after a 7-under 65. The three-time LPGA Tour winner could pick up her second title of the season after taking the Honda LPGA Thailand in February.

Biggest disappointment: On a day that featured plenty of low scores from plenty of big names, Lydia Ko dropped 11 spots down the leaderboard into a tie for 23rd with a Saturday 72. The former world No. 1 needed two birdies in her last five holes to fight her way back to even par. Winless this season, she’ll start Sunday four back, at 6 under.

Shot of the day: I.K. Kim aced the par-3 12th from 171 yards when her ball landed on the front of the green and tracked all the way to the hole.

Kim, oddly enough, signed her name to a scorecard that featured a 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7. It was all part of a 1-under 71.