(Reuters) - Tiger Woods’ deterioration on the golf course is a result of mental gremlins more than anything physical, six times major winner Nick Faldo said on Saturday after Woods shot a career-worst round of 85.
“For me, this has been going on a while,” Faldo, now an analyst, said on Golf Channel after Woods finished 13-over for the third round at the Memorial tournament in Ohio.
“Three Masters ago, I was on the (practice) range watching Tiger hit beautiful fades and draws. He was hitting the ball fabulously. (Then) he walks to the first tee, two snap hooks.
“From that day on, I thought to myself, he’s not comfortable, he’s starting to fear shots. When you are fearing a shot before you hit it, we’re all in serious trouble.”
Woods’ score at Muirfield Village was not exactly out of the blue. Four months ago he shot an 11-over 82 at the Phoenix Open, his short game in disarray and his long game not much better.
However, he found some form in time for the Masters, finishing a respectable equal 17th.
But he clearly he has not solved his problems.
Faldo said Woods was still searching for a swing fix during a practice round this week accompanied by coach Chris Como.
“One of the players playing a practice round with Tiger heard him (Woods) say four times (to Como) ‘OK, what am I trying now’.
”So they are just searching. It just doesn’t look right.”
Woods, 39, began working with Como last year after spending four years with Sean Foley.
He has not won a major since the 2008 U.S. Open, but did win five times on the PGA Tour in 2013.
His personal life has also been tumultuous the past six years. In 2009, the revelation of multiple affairs led to a divorce from Elin Nordegren the following year.
Woods began dating Olympic ski champion Lindsey Vonn in 2012, but they broke up recently.
He is at an age when a gradual decline on the golf course might be expected with multiple injuries perhaps contributing to his problems, but his downfall has been stunning.
As Faldo said: “This is a sledgehammer to the side of the head. Tiger is going to walk away saying to himself, what am I going to do next? How do I pull this back. I’m not too sure he much can handle all of this.”
Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina, editing by Gene Cherry