For better or worse, I rarely have the privilege to listen to the telecast because the TVs are always on mute. Well, this week the Tour provides us with a “Personal PA” at each media station, so we can listen to Nick Faldo, Johnny Miller and the rest of the crew.
About an hour ago, Dan Hicks said to Johnny something like, “You’re not a fan of the over-analysis of Tiger, are you?”
I was only half-listening, but that made my ears perk up.
Johnny replied in a sympathetic tone, “I’m not on this bandwagon of picking Tiger apart.”
Then, they threw it over to
Peter Jacobsen Gary Koch, who, of course, agreed.
For a moment, I thought I imagined the exchange, but then Geoff Shackelford confirmed via Twitter. Shack also tweeted: “And that took of all five minutes before Johnny Miller took a swipe at Tiger after complaining about people taking swipes at Tiger!”
Well, I took the three-man conversation as a dig at their colleagues, Faldo and Brandel Chamblee, who have been rather vocal with their theories and scrutiny on Tiger, which seems just a tad awkward, no?
Last Tuesday, Faldo, Chamblee and Miller held a conference call previewing The Players.
Asked what had changed for Tiger from Bay Hill to the present, Faldo said:
“For me it’s self‑belief. He walked up the range at the Masters, day one, heading to the first tee, he hits the snap hook and he hits the snap hook off 2, and then last week ‑‑ at the Masters, I think when he fears left and the trouble is on the right, we saw this last week, especially the 7th hole at Quail Hollow, the water runs down the right, you need a power fade to feed it in there, and if he fears losing it right, then he pulls it hard left.
“He’s got that going with the driver, you saw quite a few blocks with the iron shots, and distance control with the wedges has been out, and that will bleed into your mind on the putting green, as well.
“The real bottom line is for me, he just doesn’t have the self‑belief, the self‑confidence that he obviously had, the Tiger of old, simple as that.”
(Aside: It’s super helpful that Golf Channel/NBC Sports send us transcripts of these conference calls and noteworthy quotes from the telecast. Thanks, Jeremy and Dan!)
I think he’s fighting to incorporate very complicated swing changes that are counter-intuitive that don’t mesh up with either his abilities physically or his eyes; what he sees and what he’s capable of. It’s sad to watch. It’s sad to watch a guy who owned the game, who literally was doing what everybody dreamed of doing, couldn’t play any better. Nobody had ever played better in the history of the game; to just scrap that and start over, and then almost get as good; scrap that, and start over.
He’s got just very complicated swing thoughts going on, and he’s been at it for the better part of two years trying to incorporate these, supposedly one of the best athletes, trying to incorporate these swing thoughts over two years. It’s just sad.”
During Tiger’s Tuesday press conference, which was candid and pleasant for him (we don’t expect much), he was asked for his reaction to the comments that he had no doubt already heard. However, he was terse and patronizing, making his own jabs, saying he didn’t understand how Faldo knew what was going through his head unless he has a “superpower that I don’t know about.”
During Thursday’s telecast, Faldo clarified that he does not have the superpower of reading minds and said:
“I hated it when analysts and commentators were saying, ‘He’s thinking this. He’s thinking that.’ But this analyst here, I’ve walked the walk. I’ve been there and the bit I’m trying to describe is self-belief. I’ve had self-belief when I was playing my best and I also lost self-belief, and that’s obviously when you get to the end of your career. I can generally recognize when a player is on the range, striping it, which Tiger’s been doing basically all season…But for a player, if you cannot walk from the practice ground to the first tee…for me he doesn’t have the self-belief he really needs.”
Well, good news for fans and TV execs is that Tiger found momentum after changing his shoes due to a broken shoelace on No. 6. He made four consecutive birdies on Nos. 8-12. Despite a bogey on No. 14, Woods is one-under for the tournament and inside the cut line — which is currently even-par — with four to play.
That said, I can’t listen to the broadcast anymore. I’ve grown too used to watching the TV on mute or in person. However, I do actually enjoy listening to Johnny Miller for limited periods of time. He’s much more agreeable in person and one-on-one than in the broadcast booth. In fact, he’s probably still my favorite interview.