It's a rule of golf as immutable as "repair your ball marks" and "try not to tomahawk your playing partners when you throw your driver": at some point, every player ever involved with the game must be asked about Tiger Woods. Today: Sir Nick Faldo, who held forth on Woods in an interview with the Saskatoon Star-Phoenix. (Via Shackelford.)
When asked the eternal question -- has Woods lost his chance to pass Jack Nicklaus' record of 18 majors? -- Faldo was direct: "I do, personally," he said. "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."
The problem, Faldo suggests, is that Woods is no longer as tough mentally as he was in his glory years. And that has led to his downfall.
"Mentally, he's actually a pretty sensitive guy," Faldo said. "He's very sensitive to any comments or criticisms that we have ... 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 longer Woods goes without a significant victory, Faldo believes, the tougher it is for him to come back.
"It's now two seasons," Faldo said. "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 Presidents 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?"
Eventually, Woods will win again. What he does next will determine if guys like Faldo are on target, or sorely mistaken.