Tiger Woods’ chance to pass Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 major championships left the building the night the former Mr. Elin Nordegren walked barefoot out of his Windermere, Fla., mansion on that Thanksgiving night in 2009, according to champion golfer turned analyst Nick Faldo.
“I do, personally [believe that],” Faldo, who may be one of the few Tiger observers who knows whereof he speaks when it comes to golfers who lose their mental stability when their private lives go very publicly up in smoke, told the StarPhoenix last week. “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.”
“This all,” of course, refers to Woods’ serial philandering, consequent divorce from Nordegren, and precipitous fall from grace and competition that currently has the former ace ranked 44th in the world of professional golf.
Faldo’s own story eerily reflects that of the younger Woods. He has weathered public fallout from three soured marriages, lost sponsors’ endorsements, watched helplessly as his golf game went all to hell, fired his long-time golf coach, and even picked up the pieces after his college-aged trophy girlfriend went all Elin with a 9-iron on his Porsche.
So when Sir Nick says TIger’s focus is shot, golf observers listen.
“That’s the first thing I thought: ‘His concentration will be shattered,’” Faldo told the publication last week. “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,” said a guy who probably knows better than most how it goes. “That’s one of the simplest things that can affect you, whether it happens for business reasons or personal reasons. Once you break that concentration, it really does affect you.”
Faldo, 54, told the StarPhoenix he never regained his peace of mind after his private life went off the rails.
“Once my quality of mindset for practice was broken,” the 40-time PGA and European Tour winner conceded, “it’s been broken ever since.”