Begay: Health, motivation biggest factors for Woods


As Tiger Woods recovers from the sting of a last-place finish at the Memorial and begins final preparation for the U.S. Open, many questions still linger about the state of his game. 

Few individuals have better insight into the inner-workings of Woods than friend and former teammate Notah Begay, who believes that Woods' game - though different from the glory years of 2000-2008 - is still good enough to win on the highest level.

"He has a different body, he's got a different mind, he's got a lot more scar tissue," Begay said on a media conference call to preview the U.S. Open. "But I'm fairly certain he will win again, and I'm fairly certain he will win another major."

While Begay remains bullish about Woods' comeback chances, he points out that at age 39, Woods' top area of concern is staying healthy.

"He can't afford any more surgeries or physical setbacks that keep him out for more than three months, because there's just - every setback like sets you back in dog years," Begay said. "For every month, it's seven months almost in terms of recapturing your game and getting the timing back and all of those other things."

Begay said that he has spent significant time with Woods at his Jupiter, Fla., home since Woods' early-season struggles. He points out that leading up to the Masters, Woods spent 80 to 90 percent of his practice time on shots from 40 yards and in, neglecting other aspects of his game by default.

"There was almost no time being put into his long game," Begay said. "Once he got the short game rectified, now it's time to transition and put it back into the long game."

Begay added that while Woods must avoid injury, he also must find the inner drive to beat the best in the world - which, Begay asserts, may be difficult to harness after 79 PGA Tour wins and 14 majors.

"He beat everybody, everywhere around the world, and it's tough to find the motivation to just get up and go out and do it again," he said. "That's, I think, why we've seen such a dropoff in sort of winning performance from a lot of the greatest players in the world when they go to the Champions Tour, is that they're like, 'I've been beating these guys my whole life, and now they're ultra-motivated and I'm ready to retire. I'm just not that into it.'"