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.

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Veteran Golf Journalist Bradley S. Klein Joins Golf Channel Editorial Team

By Golf Channel Public RelationsFebruary 20, 2018, 4:15 pm

Klein to Lend 30-Plus Years in Golf Architecture, History and Travel Journalism to Golf Advisor, Golf Channel’s Digital Travel and Lifestyle Brand

Read Klein’s first column here

Veteran golf travel, history and architecture journalist Bradley S. Klein has joined Golf Channel’s editorial team as senior writer for Golf Advisor, the company’s ever-expanding digital destination for the traveling golfer, featuring more than 700,000 reviews of nearly 15,000 golf courses in 80 countries worldwide. Klein’s first column appears today and provides eight simple tips for becoming a golf course architecture junkie – how architecture can be more relevant to everyday golfers and design aspects to observe that can make a round of golf a more fulfilling experience.

With more than 40 years of varied experiences within the game of golf – a career that began as a caddie on the PGA Tour – Klein most recently served as the long-time architecture editor for Golfweek magazine and the founding editor of Superintendent News.

"I've been in love with golf course design since I was 11 years old and have been lucky over the years to find a platform where I can share that fascination with fellow golfers,” Klein said. “It's an amazing opportunity now for me to bring that passion and commitment to Golf Channel and its travel and lifestyle brand, Golf Advisor."

"We are extremely excited to have Brad join the Golf Advisor team. His unique contributions covering history and architecture will be an excellent complement to the travel content Matt Ginella brings to Golf Advisor and Golf Channel’s Morning Drive,” said Mike Lowe, vice president and general manager, Golf Advisor. “Brad’s reputation and experience in the industry make him a wonderful addition to our expanding golf travel and course design editorial team.”

Other members of Golf Advisor’s editorial team include: Brandon Tucker, Mike Bailey, Jason Deegan, Bill Irwin and Tim Gavrich.

Including assignments for Golfweek, Klein has written more than 1,500 feature articles on course architecture, resort travel, golf course development, golf history and the media for such other publications as Golf Digest, Financial Times, New York Times and Sports Illustrated. He has published seven books on golf architecture and history, including Discovering Donald Ross, winner of the USGA 2001 International Book Award. In 2015, Klein won the Donald Ross Award for lifetime achievement from the American Society of Golf Course Architects. He is well known within the golf industry and has served as a consultant on numerous golf course development and restoration projects, most recently the Old Macdonald course at acclaimed Bandon Dunes Golf Resort in Oregon.

Golf Advisor now includes the integration of Golf Vacation Insider and Golf Odyssey, two leading travel newsletters with a combined reach of more than a half million subscribers. Both newsletters joined Golf Channel’s portfolio of businesses in 2017 as part of the acquisition of Revolution Golf, golf’s largest direct-to-consumer digital platform offering video-based instruction and integrated e-commerce.

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Stock Watch: Fans getting louder, rowdier

By Ryan LavnerFebruary 20, 2018, 3:01 pm

Each week on GolfChannel.com, we’ll examine which players’ stocks and trends are rising and falling in the world of golf.

RISING

Bubba (+9%): Half of his 10 Tour titles have come at Augusta National and Riviera – that’s pretty stout. Though he can be maddening to cover because of his personality quirks, an in-form Watson is a must-watch.

Phil (+5%): For the first time in 11 years, Mickelson put together three consecutive top-6 finishes on Tour. Suddenly, another green jacket or that elusive U.S. Open title doesn’t seem so far away.

Kevin Na (+3%): How much fun would this guy be on a Ryder Cup team? He hits it dead straight – which will be important at Le Golf National, where the home team will narrow the fairways – and would drive the Europeans absolutely bonkers.

West Coast swing (+2%): From Jason Day to Gary Woodland to Ted Potter to Watson, the best coast produced a series of memorable comeback stories. And that’s always good news for those of us who get paid to write about the game.

South Korean talent (+1%): They already represent nine of the top 16 players in the world, and that doesn’t even include Jin Young Ko, who just won in her first start as an LPGA member.



FALLING

Steve Stricker Domination (-1%): Those predicting that he would come out and mop up on the PGA Tour Champions – hi there! – will be surprised to learn that he’s now 0-for-7 on the senior circuit (with five top-3s), after Joe Durant sped past him on the final day in Naples. The quality of golf out there is strong.

Patrick Cantlay’s routine (-2%): Never really noticed it before, but Cantlay ground to a halt during the final round, often looking at the cup six or seven times before finally stroking his putt. Perhaps it’s not a coincidence that his final-round scoring average is nearly four strokes higher than his openers.

Lydia Ko (-3%): Another wholesale change? Whatever is going on here – and it reeks of too much parental involvement – it’s not good for her short- or long-term future.

Tiger (-4%): It’s early, and he’s obviously savvy enough to figure it out, but nothing else in this comeback will matter if Woods can’t start driving it on the planet.

Fan behavior (-8%): Kudos to Rory McIlroy and Justin Thomas for taking the Riviera spectators to task for their tiresome (and increasingly aggressive) calls after a player hits a shot. The only problem? PGA National’s par-3 17th could be even worse – the drunk fans are closer to the action, and the hole is infinitely more difficult than TPC Scottsdale’s 16th. Buckle up.

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USGA, R&A detail World Handicap System

By Randall MellFebruary 20, 2018, 2:00 pm

The USGA and the R&A released details Tuesday of a proposed new World Handicap System.

The WHS takes the six handicapping systems that exist worldwide and aligns them under a new single system.

The USGA and the R&A will govern the WHS with the six existing handicap authorities administering them locally. A two-year transition will begin to fully implement the new system in 2020.

The unified alignment is designed to make it easier to obtain and maintain a handicap and to make the handicap more equitable among golfers of differing abilities and genders around the world.

“For some time, we’ve heard golfers say, ‘I’m not good enough to have a handicap,’ or ‘I don’t play enough to have a handicap,’” USGA executive director Mike Davis said. “We want to make the right decisions now to encourage a more welcoming and social game.”

Davis said the effort is designed to both simplify and unify the handicap system.

“We’re excited to be taking another important step – along with modernizing golf’s rules – to provide a pathway into the sport, making golf easier to understand and more approachable and enjoyable for everyone to play,” he said.

R&A chief executive Martin Slumbers said the new handicap system should make the game more inviting.

“We want to make it more attractive to golfers to obtain a handicap and strip away some of the complexity and variation which can be off-putting for newcomers,” Slumbers said. “Having a handicap, which is easier to understand and is truly portable around the world, can make golf much more enjoyable and is one of the unique selling points of our sport.”

The new WHS system aims to more accurately gauge the score a golfer is “reasonably capable of achieving” on any course around the world under normal conditions.

Key features of the WHS include:

*Flexibility in formats of play, allowing both competitive and recreational rounds to count for handicap purposes and ensuring that a golfer’s handicap is more reflective of potential ability.

*A minimal number of scores needed to obtain a new handicap; a recommendation that the number of scores needed to obtain a new handicap be 54 holes from any combination of 18-hole and 9-hole rounds, but with “some discretion available for handicapping authorities or national associations to set a different minimum within their own jurisdiction.”

*A consistent handicap that “is portable” from course to course and country to country through worldwide use of the USGA course and slope rating system, already used in more than 80 countries.

*An average-based calculation of a handicap, taken from the best eight out of the last 20 scores and “factoring in memory of previous demonstrated ability for better responsiveness and control.”

*A calculation that considers the impact that abnormal course and weather conditions might have on a player’s performance each day.  

*Daily handicap revisions, taking account of the course and weather conditions calculation.

*A limit of net double bogey on the maximum hole score (for handicapping purposes only). 

*A maximum handicap limit of 54.0, regardless of gender, to encourage more golfers to measure and track their performance to increase their enjoyment of the game.

The USGA and the R&A devised the WHS after a review of the handicap systems currently administered by six authorities around the world: Golf Australia, the Council of National Golf Unions (CONGU) in Great Britain and Ireland, the European Golf Association (EGA), the South African Golf Association (SAGA), the Argentine Golf Association (AAG) and the USGA. Those authorities, plus the Japan Golf Association and Golf Canada, collaborated in helping develop the new system.

The six handicapping authorities represent approximately 15 million golfers in 80 countries who currently maintain a golf handicap.  

“While the six existing handicap systems have generally worked very well locally, on a global basis, their different characteristics have sometimes resulted in inconsistency, with players of the same ability ending up with slightly different handicaps,” the USGA and the R&A stated in a joint release. “This has sometimes resulted in unnecessary difficulties and challenges for golfers competing in handicap events or for tournament administrators. A single WHS will pave the way to consistency and portability.”

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Honda Classic: Tee times, TV schedule, stats

By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 19, 2018, 11:44 pm

The PGA Tour heads back east to kick off the Florida Swing at PGA National. Here are the key stats and information for the Honda Classic. Click here for full-field tee times.

How to watch:

Thursday, Rd. 1: Golf Channel, 2-6PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

Friday, Rd. 2: Golf Channel, 2-6PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

Saturday, Rd. 3: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream; CBS, 3-6PM ET

Sunday, Rd. 4: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream; CBS, 3-6PM ET


Purse: $6.6 million ($1,188,000 to the winner)

Course: PGA National, Palm Beach Gardens, Florida (par-70; 7,140 yards)

Defending champion: Rickie Fowler (-12) won by four, picking off his fourth PGA Tour victory.


Notables in the field:

Tiger Woods

• Making his fourth start at the Honda Classic and his first since withdrawing with back spasms in 2014.

• Shot a Sunday 62 in a T-2 finish in 2012, marking his lowest career final-round score on the PGA Tour.

• Coming off a missed cut at last week's Genesis Open, his 17th in his Tour career.


Rickie Fowler

• The defending champion owns the lowest score to par and has recorded the most birdies and eagles in this event since 2012.

• Fowler's last start was at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, where he failed to close a 54-hole lead. Fowler is 1-for-6 with 54-hole leads in his Tour career, with his only successful close coming at last year's Honda.

• On Tour this year, Fowler is first in scrambling from the fringe, second in total scrambling and third in strokes gained around the green. 


Rory McIlroy

• It's been feast or famine for McIlroy at the Honda. He won in 2012, withdrew with a toothache in 2013, finished T-2 in 2014 and missed the cut in 2015 and 2016.

• McIlroy ascended to world No. 1 with his victory at PGA National in 2012, becoming the second youngest player at 22 years old to top the OWGR, behind only Woods. McIlroy was later edged by a slightly younger 22-year-old Jordan Spieth.

• Since the beginning of 2010, only Dustin Johnson (15) has more PGA Tour victories than McIlroy (13).