Woods has five wins this year, which includes two World Golf Championships and The Players Championships. That’s a career for some players. Yes, he tends to win on the same courses, but maybe that’s because he plays the same courses on his limited schedule.
But there was something about the majors this year that brought out a different player.
Nick Faldo said before the British Open that Woods was “not in a good mental place.” For some reason, this became news. Jack Nicklaus effectively suggested the same thing in a Golf Channel interview during the final round of the PGA Championship. Nicklaus said Woods was swinging the club a week earlier at Firestone “as well as I’ve ever seen him swing it,” and that his swing wasn’t quite the same as he got deeper into the PGA Championship, and further behind on the leaderboard.
Nicklaus said it was “between his ears.”
“You start losing confidence,” he said. “You try to do something you can’t do it and then it frustrates you. We all go through those things.”
More telling was a prediction from Geoff Ogilvy, who finished the British Open around lunchtime Sunday and was asked to handicap the final round. Ogilvy thought Muirfield was set up perfectly for Woods, who was two shots behind. The course was yellow and fast, the kind of conditions on which Woods thrives in links golf. His only caveat was that Woods could not afford to lose ground early because it would put too much stress on him. That’s about how it unfolded. Woods had a couple of three-putt bogeys early and it was a fight the rest of the way.
Woods hasn’t had a mental coach since he was an amateur, and he doesn’t need one now. He doesn’t need someone to show him clips of Yoda before a major for inspiration. He doesn’t need to hear a tired message to, “Trust your swing.”
He needs the peace he had in March. And he has to find that himself.