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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Golf Channel adds Matt Farrell as GM of Alternative Golf & Exec. Director of World Long Drive Association

By Golf Channel Public RelationsOctober 23, 2018, 1:20 pm

Farrell’s New Role Follows Past Decade Spent as CMO of USA Swimming

Matt Farrell, CMO of USA Swimming, has joined Golf Channel as General Manager of Alternative Golf and Executive Director for the World Long Drive Association. Farrell is a 20-year veteran of sports and entertainment marketing spanning roles with USA Swimming, the U.S. Olympic Committee and Warner Brothers. The announcement was made today by Tom Knapp, Golf Channel executive vice president, partnerships and programming.

“Golf Channel is committed to the growth of the game by engaging new and different fans in our coverage of all aspects of the game,” said Knapp. “Alternative competitions like World Long Drive expand golf’s reach, and Matt’s proven track record of elevating sports, both through grassroots efforts, digital extensions and high-profile media opportunities will further fuel our efforts. Matt has a terrific reputation within the Olympic community, where he is known as an effective and strategic partner amongst colleagues across sport governing bodies and sponsors.”

“From the first time I experienced a WLD event, I immediately saw the progressive vision and promising future of long drive as a sport and unique avenue for golf to connect with younger, athletic-minded sports fans,” Farrell said. “And thanks to the investments of NBC Sports, the competitors, sponsors, and event hosts the past few years, we have an incredible foundation to expand upon with a global, long-term strategic plan. For me personally, I look forward to combining my background in commercial development, organizational leadership and digital content at USA Swimming and the U.S. Olympic Committee with Golf Channel’s entrepreneurial enthusiasm to grow the sport of golf in non-traditional ways.”

In the newly created role, Farrell will lead all domestic and international business elements for Golf Channel’s owned and operated alternative golf franchises, led by the World Long Drive Association, which has aired on Golf Channel since 2013. For these franchises, Farrell will oversee event sponsorships, marketing, communications, operations, player relations and TV/digital media extensions. Farrell will lead teams focused on further development of additional alternative golf competitions, events and franchises. Farrell will report to Knapp and his official start date is December 3.

Since making a commitment to add World Long Drive to its business portfolio in 2015, Golf Channel has elevated the sport to feature five televised live competitions in 2018, culminating in the Volvik World Long Drive Championship in primetime, and adding the women’s division to televised events for the past two years. Previously, World Long Drive’s exposure was limited to a single, tape-delayed presentation of the men’s world championship on ESPN2. Despite a history as a sport dating back to 1976, Golf Channel’s support drove World Long Drive to be named a 2018 finalist for a “Breakthrough Sports League of the Year” by the annual Cynopsis Sports industry awards. The broader sports industry also has taken notice, including ESPN proclaiming that long drive has “recently started to enter the mainstream of golf;” Men’s Journal noting “with the sport’s ascendant profile and ever-growing prestige,” fans should “buckle up for more high-octane action;” Golf Digest saying the WLD atmosphere is “on the upswing, gaining traction;” and Golf.com claiming it is “an eye-opening experience”.

Matt Farrell Professional Background:

  • USA Swimming, Chief Marketing Officer since 2008, previously Managing Director of Business Development since 2005.
    • USA Swimming is a National Governing Body with 400,000 members and the No. 1 Olympic swimming country in the world.
    • Under his leadership, delivered highest corporate partner revenue in organization’s history, including corporate partners such as BMW, Marriott, MilkPEP, Arena, TYR, Blue Diamond and Chobani, in addition to long-term partnership renewals with Speedo and Phillips 66.
    • Farrell developed partnerships with Disney and Discovery Education, as well as a diversity and inclusion partnership with Sigma Gamma Rho, an African-American sorority.
    • Signature programs created by Farrell include USA Swimming Productions digital video department, SwimToday youth participation campaign, USA Swimming House VIP hospitality experience, and annual SwimBiz conference focused on elevating the swimming industry’s business potential, sponsorship opportunities and social media influence.
    • Previous professional experience includes serving as Associate Director, Internet Marketing at the U.S. Olympic Committee from 2000-2005, and Director of Internet Marketing, Warner Home Video for Warner Bros. from 1999-2000. Additionally, Farrell served previously at the U.S. Olympic Committee as Manager of Online Projects from 1997-1999 and Communications Coordinator at USA Swimming 1993-1997, after starting his career in the Purdue University’s Sports Information Office from 1992-1993.
    • Farrell additionally has served on the boards for Adaptive Adventures (2013-16) and USA Ultimate (2010-12).
    • Farrell graduated from the University of Arkansas with a BA in Broadcast Journalism.
    • Farrell, a life-long golfer, will be relocating to Golf Channel’s World Headquarters in Orlando, Fla.
    • Farrell is married to Michelle Dusserre, 1984 Olympic silver medalist in gymnastics, who currently works in international sports consulting. They have two daughters – Abby and Zoe. Abby is currently at the University of Illinois and competes on the wheelchair basketball team; while Zoe competes in soccer, swimming and playing in the marching band.
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Randall's Rant: Tales of the lost and found

By Randall MellOctober 23, 2018, 12:28 pm

Give me a player who lost his way.

Give me a player who lost his motivation, or his confidence, or maybe just his hard-fought momentum, or, better yet, a player who lost all of the above.

Give me a man or woman like that as a winner on a tour Sunday, because there’s inspiration for all of us in those kind of stories.

This wicked, mysterious game comes with the dreary certainty that eventually we’re all going to have to make our way out of some deep patch of woods.

That’s what made this past week so special.

We hit the trifecta.

We didn’t just get one winner who came out triumphant after feeling lost this year. We got three of them.

We got Brooks Koepka winning the CJ Cup @Nine Bridges in South Korea, Danielle Kang winning the Buick LPGA Shanghai and Sergio Garcia winning the Andalucia Valderrama Masters in Spain.

If you’re a golf fan needing an offseason as much as the players do, maybe you were tempted to take the week off and just gorge on high school, college and NFL football. Koepka, Kang and Garcia made that hard to do. They had compelling stories to tell, or to keep telling.

Koepka, 28, ascended to No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking for the first time with Sunday’s victory. Yes, it comes after he won his second and third majors this year and after he was named PGA Tour player of the year, but it also comes in a year that began with such a troubling start.

Koepka’s success is more remarkable when you remember he missed the Masters with a wrist injury. You can’t fully appreciate where he is now without reminding yourself he missed four months early in the year with a torn tendon in his left wrist, and that he spent two months in a soft cast and didn’t touch a club for 91 days.

“You go from playing some of the best golf I’ve probably ever played to being at the lowest point professionally that I’ve been,” Koepka said on the eve of the U.S. Open back in June. “It wasn’t anything I’d wish upon anyone.”

Six months ago, who would have believed he would seize the No. 1 ranking by fall? Six years ago, who would have believed it possible with Koepka beginning his pro career in Europe’s minor leagues? He’s the first European Challenge Tour player to win three majors.

“It’s unbelievable,” Koepka said. “Look where I started. My first pro start was in Switzerland. I don’t think I could have said six years later I’d be No. 1.”

And then there’s Kang.

Last year, the two-time U.S. Women’s Amateur winner broke through to win her first LPGA title, making it a major at the KPMG Women’s PGA.

By late this summer, Kang’s confidence was gone.

Kang, 26, said she was struggling with the yips over full shots and over putts in a run of missing five cuts in six starts. While she began working out her issues going to Butch Harmon a month ago, she was still wrestling with demons just a week ago. She said she needed “four minutes” to take the club back over a shot at the KEB Hana Bank Championship.

“I was able to get over a lot of anxiety I was feeling when I was trying to hit a golf ball,” Kang said. “I just kept trusting my golf game.”

Kang was a bit of a mess early on Sunday in Shanghai, until her caddie handed her a wedge going to the back nine and told her to smash her golf bag with it, to exorcise her demon anger.

“I thank him for that,” she said.

And there’s Garcia, who broke through to win the Masters a year ago but looked as if he might not be worthy of a spot on the European Ryder Cup team last month. He missed eight of 11 PGA Tour cuts leading up to the Ryder Cup, including the cuts at all four majors, but he flipped a switch going to Paris. He returned to his former brilliance going 3-1 to help the Euros win.

Garcia, 38, carried his Ryder Cup momentum to Spain.

“To be able to win here at Valderrama three times in a row is a dream come true,” Garcia said.

Yes, but give me players who know what nightmares are. Watching them find their way out makes for terrific golf theater. It makes football’s shadow a little less formidable this time of year.

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Stock Watch: LPGA raises some Q-uestions

By Ryan LavnerOctober 23, 2018, 11:42 am

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

RISING

Brooks (+9%): Golf’s new king looks built to last, with a powerful game, a rock-solid stroke and a chip on his shoulder the size of his South Florida mansion. As long as Koepka stays healthy, the game’s preeminent big-game hunter will continue to eat.

Danielle Kang (+7%): Two weeks ago her mind was so cluttered that she needed four minutes to pull the trigger on a shot. Battling chip and full-swing yips, she kept the demons at bay to earn an LPGA title even more satisfying than her major breakthrough.

Paul Azinger (+5%): Tabbed to replace the inimitable Johnny Miller in the NBC booth, Azinger was the best and the most logical choice for the job. He’s a sharp observer of the game who won’t be afraid to let it rip, when necessary.

Sergio Garcia (+4%): Whenever the Ryder Cup inevitably returns to Valderrama, even if he’s 65 years old, Garcia deserves at least some consideration for a captain’s pick. His record there is stupid-good: 14 appearances, three wins, seven top-3s, 13 top-10s.

Gary Woodland (+3%): He’s 37 under par across the first two events of the season, with no wins to show for it. Tough sport!


FALLING

Ian Poulter (-1%): Playing in the final group with Koepka in Korea, Poulter threw up a 1-under 71 – the worst score of anyone inside the top 22 – and nearly tumbled out of the top 10.

Slow-play penalties (-2%): Good thing the PGA Tour Champions rules officials finally cracked down on slow play at the senior level – by picking on Corey Pavin and not notorious slowpoke Bernhard Langer, who just so happens to be No. 2 in the points standings.

LPGA Q Series (-4%): The LPGA’s new version of Q-School gets underway this week, and the women’s college golf coaches are not happy about it: The top 5 players from last season’s individual rankings (Jennifer Kupcho, Maria Fassi, Patty Tavatanakit, Lilia Vu, Lauren Stephenson) automatically earned a spot in the final stage, guaranteeing at least some Symetra status and likely a full LPGA card, if they finish inside the top 45. The LPGA is cherry-picking the best from the college ranks, even if they’re not yet ready to make the jump.

World No. 1 parity (-5%): This was just the second time since the world rankings debuted that four players reached No. 1. That trend doesn’t seem like it’ll end in 2019, either – especially with Tiger Woods once again eyeing the top spot.

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What's in the Bag: CJ Cup winner Koepka

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 23, 2018, 12:50 am

Brooks Koepka closed strong to win the CJ Cup in South Korea, and he also took over the No. 1 ranking. Here's a look inside his bag.

Driver: TaylorMade M3 (9.5 degrees)

Fairway Woods: TaylorMade M2 Tour HL (16.5 degrees)

Irons: Nike Vapor Fly Pro (3); Mizuno JPX-900 Tour (4-PW)

Wedges: Titleist Vokey Design SM7 Raw (52, 56 degrees), SM7 Raw TVD (60 degrees)

Putter: Scotty Cameron T10 Select Newport 2 prototype

Ball: Titleist Pro V1x