Home' Australian Golf Digest : March 2018 Contents 144 australiangolfdigest.com.au | march 2018
Our idea was to exploit a premise that
has proved reliable since Woods first came
to world renown as an amateur in the mid-
1990s: The better the player, the better the
take on Tiger.
To varying degrees, each Hall of Famer
possessed some or even all of Woods’ myriad
qualities and strengths. But to allow the
interviews to form a more co-ordinated
whole, the subject matter for each former
player focused on the area he most closely
compared with Woods.
With Nicklaus, it was the uncanny
ability for making it happen. For Player, an
indefatigable self-belief. For Trevino, an
undying obsession for the game. For Miller, a
nearly identical crucial headstart as a youth.
For Faldo, a relentless focus on Majors.
The individual framing allowed each of
our sages to pull from personal experience
and observation. The result is wisdom and
insight about what it takes to reach the very
highest levels of golf – and through a more
intimate understanding of five all-timers, a
more refined appreciation of Woods.
Greatness in golf will remain fascinating
and mysterious. The current question: when,
if ever, will Tiger, now 42, achieve the kind of
late-career climax – Nicklaus’ 1986 Masters
at 46 the epitome – that provides each of our
five elders such an enduring satisfaction? As
2018 develops, they’ll retain the most interest
and empathy as a renewed Tiger – still very
much a completist – chases his missing
the journey to thursday morning
Tiger and I were similar in that we could
almost be in the zone for four days. I had
this ability to focus on golf. You hear the
psychologists say you should bounce around,
but I didn’t. Sometimes Fanny [caddie Fanny
Sunesson] would go off on a subject, and I
used to drag her back: “No, no, no. Just keep
The preparation time between Majors
is vital, and this is where I think Tiger was
absolutely phenomenal. It’s the journey
getting to Thursday morning of the US Open
or whatever, and if you’re really smart and
know more about the game, it starts the week
before or two weeks before or, in the case
of the Masters, months before. But you’ve
got to start well, to be absolutely ready for
Thursday morning. I remember reading
that Arnold Palmer said he would take the
intensity of 17 and 18 on Sunday of a Major
and bring that to Thursday. And that was a
little jolt to me. I used to say to myself in the
Majors: Every shot is history on Thursday as
well, so don’t waste them.
With Tiger, I think of the opening nine
holes when he shot 40 at the 1997 Masters.
[Faldo, the defending champion, was his
playing partner in the first two rounds of
Woods’ 12-stroke victory.] I wonder if that
was one of his epiphanies where he said, I ’m
never going to do that again. I’m never going
to set myself up to get that far down. I’m going
to find a way to prepare. And I think that’s
what he did so brilliantly. How he could go
out, win a tournament, disappear for three
weeks and come back out in a Major, and
there was no wastage of shots or sloppiness.
And the number of times you would say, How
does he come out holing every putt?
Tiger knew he was different. Special. He
hit a golf ball differently – fullstop – than
anybody else. Nobody could drive it like him,
nobody could hit long irons like him, or the
wedges and the putter. There wasn’t anybody
ever who was that good in every department.
And then he’d believe he was better prepared
for Thursday than anyone else, and it
became a pattern.
It’s true in other sports. With Tom Brady,
I tune in to make sure I watch his first
possession. I love Formula One racing. How
come these guys will all qualify within tenths
of a second, and then on the first lap of the
race, Lewis Hamilton will be a full second
ahead of everybody?
I birdied a lot of opening holes at the Open
Championship. You psych yourself all week,
and you visualise it, seeing yourself knock
it out there, on the green, in, and off you go.
Whereas some people stand up on the first
tee, and they can’t see the fairway.
I’d like to do some of my career differently.
I made mistakes working too hard at
tournaments. I know I wore myself out, wore
out my golf batteries. But I said to myself,
I don’t want to get to 45 and regret that I
didn’t try hard enough. Because I know
some golfers, I watched them get into their
40s, and they were lazy. And suddenly it’s
gone. You’re an athlete given a window of
opportunity. And while you’ve got your nerve,
you’d better make the most of it. Because
once your nerve starts to go, you ain’t getting
that one back.
That last round at the 1996 Masters
[overcoming Greg Norman’s six-stroke
lead] was the best round mentally I ever
had. The swing wasn’t quite right, and I
had to mentally push myself through each
‘Tiger knew he
hit a golf ball
fullstop – than
– n ick faldo
142-151_AGD0218_TigerWoods Great.indd 144
7/2/18 2:45 pm
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