Norman also sees Woods’ quest to break Jack Nicklaus’ record for major championship victories growing more difficult.
Norman’s opinions came out in answer to questions during the Shark Shootout media day today in Naples. Here are excerpts:
Norman on whether Woods will return to the dominant form he showed before his accident last year led to revelations about his marital infidelities:
“I don't think it's going to be as easy for him as what it was in the past. I think his confidence level has been completely dented a little bit. Not on his private life side of things, but more in his golf game. I'm sure when he walks to the tee now, he doesn't have the same adulation that he had before. . .
'I was an international player, so you get this. When you walk from green to tee, and there are 30,000 people, and 1,000 of them between the green and tee, you get things thrown in your ear that you cannot block out, no matter how strong your mind is. So Tiger has probably experienced a little bit of that, and it's going to be tough because he's gone through 10, 15 years of his career where everybody was just yelling great things to him . . .
'Technically, he'll get his game back to where he'll be able to hit the ball the way he likes to hit the ball, and he'll get his confidence back that way, but he has to deal with the other issues, as well, and they just compound a little bit, and make life just a little bit more difficult.'
On the competition Woods is facing:
'Each year that goes by, Tiger gets a year older, and these kids get a year younger, and now the kids are not as intimidated by Tiger Woods as they used to be. The group of guys that grew up with Tiger are still Tiger's age, so they're moving on, as well. So now you have this fresh pool of young talent coming through who is saying, give me the reins, I'll go take it on any time, which is great.'
About Woods’ longevity:
'The sustainability for a player to be at the top level for a long period of time is tough, because, hey, he's under the microscope more now than he's ever been . . . You get put on this pedestal so everybody wants to know what you're doing, and the more you keep yourself out there, the harder it is to keep all that stuff away.'
'So eventually it gets through. So when it gets through, the concentration level and the application level and the commitment and dedication are probably the same, but it's probably not the way it used to be within himself. He'll come back. He'll come back and win golf tournaments, but he won't be as dominating as he used to be, is what I think anyway.'
On Woods' chances of breaking Nicklaus’ record for major championship victories:
'I think he still has a chance to catch Jack. I think the chances are getting slimmer and slimmer, though. Like I said, the younger players are getting better and better and he's not as intimidating on the golf course as much anymore, and he's not winning. So winning breeds success and confidence.'
'As he goes into Augusta next year, if he hasn't won a golf tournament, that's going to be nearly a year and a half maybe. That's going to be really tough on him, because now you start doubting yourself and you think, `OK, when will I ever win again?' And then you've got to think about winning majors to break Jack's record.'
“He's a good enough player to do it, there's no question about it. It's just that as more time goes on, those chances start to dwindle more and more.”