Tiger Woods follows a tee shot on the way to a 74. (Tannen Maury / EPA )
When Tiger Woods won the Arnold Palmer Invitational in late March, many speculated that the former No. 1 player in the world had finally righted the ship and rediscovered the swing that used to rule golf.
Of course, then he finished 40th in the Masters and missed the cut in last week's Wells Fargo Championship and the questions resurfaced about his revamped swing and recovery from a two-year slide.
The Players Championship, which Woods has pulled out of the last two years, would be another testing ground. So far, it's not going so well.
Woods shot a two-over-par 74 in his opening round and birdied only one of the four par-five holes. He had three birdies but also five bogeys and is tied for 103rd place early in the round.
Nick Faldo, the former major champion and current TV analyst, said before the tournament that he didn't think Tiger was mentally back from the personal, physical and technical problems that have plagued him.
Woods, as he often does, bristled at such comments and told reporters Tuesday, "I always find it interesting since they’re not in my head. They must have some kind of superpower I don’t know about."
Faldo, on the Golf Channel telecast Thursday, reiterated his position, as a player who has "walked the walk."
"For me, he doesn't have the self-belief he needs," Faldo said, referring to watching Woods hit one excellent shot after another on the practice range, then lose that swing on the course.
Woods once was a player aggressively pursuing Jack Nicklaus' record of 18 major championships and is only four away from that. But now, he's a player simply struggling to find his game and to get back into a position where he can at least compete week in and week out.
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