Tiger Woods’ competition at the Masters this year is too fierce for the defending champion to “flip a switch” and return to contention, according to Nick Faldo.
Woods ended an 11-year wait for his 15th major as he triumphed at Augusta last April. The 44-year-old subsequently won the ZOZO Championship in October 2019 but has since struggled for form.
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Battling back problems, Woods finished in a tie for 37th at this year’s PGA Championship and missed the cut at the 2020 U.S. Open.
Faldo, a three-time Masters champion, does not expect last year’s Augusta winner to suddenly rediscover his best form this week.
“Unfortunately, things are just more difficult for Tiger,” he said. “He’s a little bit older and the back hasn’t been good. “His back rules his everything — golf and life, probably. It rules his practice — that’s very important. He cannot stand and hit putts like he used to, he can’t put the work in.
“He certainly hasn’t put the competitive reps in and he hasn’t had the results. Everything is a challenge this week, the weather conditions, a physical walk.
“The bottom line is it’s an extremely difficult test for Tiger this week to rekindle that amazing magic from last year.
“Can you flip a switch and say, ‘I’ll just have the greatest emotional week of possibly my career,’ showing his children he could still be a champion? I don’t believe he could flip the switch on that. There’s too many good players. There’s 10 guys or more who are very long hitters, which is going to be key.”
That brought Faldo onto Bryson DeChambeau, the longest driver on the PGA Tour, who was tied for fourth at the PGA and won the U.S. Open, his first major success.
DeChambeau is among the favorites for the Masters and Faldo said: “He is a completely different animal, literally right now. He’s spearheading the whole distance debate. But I’m a fan of his. He’s done it physically and he’s applied the science.”
Faldo is less optimistic of Rory McIlroy’s chances of finally ending his wait for a career Grand Slam at Augusta, where there will be no patrons.
The absence of spectators this year amid the coronavirus pandemic has coincided with a tough run of form for McIlroy.
“Rory seems like he’s been one of the players who’s suffered from a lack of atmosphere,” Faldo said. “Rory feeds off that.
“He hasn’t played his best, hasn’t managed to get completely on a fantastic run.”
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