Will Tiger Woods break Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 career major championships. Time will certainly tell, but Nick Faldo believes that opportunity has passed.
“I do, personally (believe that),” Faldo told the Montreal Gazette. “I was one of the few guys that said it right after this all happened and he was trying to get back to the Masters last year.
“Mentally, he's actually a pretty sensitive guy. He's very sensitive to any comments or criticisms that we have. It's just about global communication. Something like that, trying to deal with that, I thought it was going to really affect him. Plus, there's probably a lot going on in his life that we don't know about. It's just having that peace of mind. There's nothing nicer for a golfer to go to the golf course all day long and you do what you want to do, practice-play or play-practice, and then you look at your watch and say, 'I'm going home -- it's 6 p.m.'”
Woods of course hasn’t won anywhere since 2009 and his last major victory came at the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines, where he famously won on a broken leg. Since then, Woods has posted a half-dozen finishes in the top 6 in majors, but he also missed the cut in his last one, the PGA Championship, after missing this year’s U.S. and British Opens because of injury.
Faldo, who won six career major championships and dealt with his own share of scrutiny in his heyday, said he can sympathize with what Woods is going through now.
“Now, I know what it's like,” Faldo said. “The phone's always going; people are texting, emailing. I can't concentrate like that.
“That's the first thing I thought: 'His concentration will be shattered.' He had this amazing ability to go away from a tournament and then go on and practice as close to tournament-mode as anybody could do or better than anybody else could do. Now, I think that's been shattered. I can't imagine what it's like. The phone is ringing off the hook and there are all sorts of things to talk about.
“That's one of the simplest things that can affect you, whether it happens for business reasons or personal reasons. Once you break that concentration, it really does affect you.”
Faldo also sees a connection between Woods’ recent string of injuries and what he’s gone through in his personal life, saying, “The stress injuries to your body are also related to that. When you're under stress, physically you will break down somewhere, whether it's a physical thing or emotional thing. All of this (is) linked.
"It's now two seasons. It's not like it's been two months. Two seasons of golf have gone by. He hasn't been in a comfortable mode for two years. Even when he comes back for The President's Cup, he won't be comfortable because he'll be under the questions and spotlight -- should he be there or shouldn't he be there?"
Woods, 29th in the current U.S. Presidents Cup standings, has already been guaranteed a spot on the team by captain Fred Couples. He won’t play again, however, until the Frys.com Open after missing the PGA TOUR Playoffs for the FedExCup.
As for Faldo, he added that once he lost his focus from all the on and off-course distractions, he was never able to regain it.
“Once my quality of mindset for practice was broken, it's been broken ever since,” Faldo said.
Time will tell if Woods’ is, too.