Voice of experience might have
spoken harshly to Furyk, Woods
What a brutal test the Olym- pic Club presented, espe- cially with a start that made it extremely easy to become
discouraged. Even then there was little let
up. I kept hearing that the last three holes
offered good birdie opportunities, but I
didn’t see many, especially on Sunday.
I felt badly for Jim Furyk. He carried the
most pressure for two days, and it finally
got him just before the finish line. Experience is important, but it’s harder to hold up
in a major when you’ve played for a lot of
years. An older player knows all the things
that can go wrong, and he doesn’t know how
many more chances he’ll have. Raymond
Floyd had had that burden at the 1990 Masters when I defeated him in a playoff, and
Jim had that burden at Olympic.
By contrast, young Webb Simpson was
under the radar until the closing stages,
and he played with an easy freedom as he
was shooting those two closing 68s. My
guess is that the fact that he and his wife
are expecting their second child soon gave
him some needed calm. I won my first two
majors around the time my first two children were born, so I know the feeling.
Right now, Tiger Woods is having trouble regaining serenity. I thought Tiger’s game was back after his wonderful performance at Memorial, but the way he played at Olympic after
holding the 36-hole lead shows he has a ways to go. I thought
he’d knock three of the four demons off his shoulders at the
U.S. Open, but he might’ve had another one jump on instead.
I’m not a mind reader, but I’m convinced Tiger simply
doesn’t have the 100 percent self-belief he had when he was
No. 1. Maybe he’s only lost 5 percent, but it was a big part of
his advantage. When my own self-belief eroded in the late
’90s, doubts began and I lost the ability to execute shots
with confidence. It began a downward spiral.
Tiger was the most confident player I’ve ever seen. I was
paired with him the first two rounds at Hoylake in 2006
when he won his third British Open. Even though his father
had passed away two months earlier, he still carried an
enviable physical and mental calm.
so long in the
bid to win a
That’s gone, but I think he still has it in him to regain it.
For one thing, he still possesses the Iron Chest. I learned
the term from a psychologist, who gave me the image as
a way of staying impenetrable during a tournament no
matter how shaky I was feeling inside. I would hold my
chin up and look straight ahead and feel stronger. I would
put on my Iron Chest on Monday, not Thursday. It takes a
lot of commitment, but it seemed to me that the guys who
have a laugh during their practice rounds often couldn’t
handle the shock when the pressure increased tenfold on
Tiger has been better than anyone at churning out 100
percent effort and concentration every time he plays. But
after a number of years, the repetitive effort can wear a
player out, as it did me. I would actually like to see Tiger
reprise what he did after playing poorly at Carnoustie
in 2007. He took a break from his coach and went home
to think about his game alone for a few weeks. When he
came back at Bridgestone in August, I will never forget
how soft and easy his swing looked. And for the rest of the
year and all the way until he won the 2008 U.S. Open at
Torrey Pines, he was nearly unbeatable. N
Nick Faldo is a commentator for CBS and Golf Channel.