Tiger Woods insists Rory McIlroy will turn around his troubled form
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Tiger Woods has backed to turn around his troubled form by insisting the Northern Irishman "knows what he is doing".
Sir Nick Faldo, who was a consistent and outspoken critic of McIlroy's switch to Nike equipment, suggested on Monday that the 24-year-old was suffering from a lack of focus. McIlroy has lost his world No1 spot to Woods and arrived at the Open Championship while offering little evidence that he can return to his touch of last year.
Woods, however, believes his own experiences when younger have relevance to McIlroy's present situation. "I won a major championship, my first one out as a professional, and then I proceeded to alter my swing a bit with Butch Harmon," Woods said. "And it took me the better part of a year and a half, maybe almost two years, before it really clicked in.
"I was getting questioned quite a bit through that era, that stage of my career, 'why would you do something of that nature?'
"There were a lot of questions of, why would you change something? And do this, do that, how could you change something that won the Masters by 12? I've gone through that process.
"I think that for him, he's going through that right now and he's making some alterations. Only he knows it's for the betterment of his game. People obviously speculate and analyse and hypothesise about what he should or shouldn't do, but deep down he knows what he is doing."
Faldo also asserted that Woods was lacking in self-belief in the context of majors. The American hasn't won any of golf's biggest four individual events since 2008 and hasn't claimed an Open since two years before that.
"I feel very good about my game," Woods insisted. "I have felt very, very good going into major championships. I've had a pretty good year this year so far; won four times. Even though I haven't won a major championship in five years, I've been there in a bunch of them where I've had chances. I just need to keep putting myself there and eventually I'll get some.
"I think it's just a shot here and there. It's making a key up-and-down here or getting a good bounce here, capitalising on an opportunity here and there.
"For instance, this year at Augusta was one of those examples. I really played well, and a good shot [on the 15th on Friday] ended up having a bad break. So it's a shot here and a shot there. It's not much.
"It could happen on the first day, it could happen on the last day. But it's turning that tide and getting the momentum at the right time or capitalising on our opportunity. That's what you have to do to win major championships."
Woods shrugged off the incident early on Monday morning which led to him incurring a bizarre delay to his practice round. Woods had sought to play at 6.40am but had to wait 20 minutes, at the behest of Royal & Ancient officials, as players are not permitted on the course before 7am.
"I like getting up early, especially when the sun comes up at 4 in the morning here," Woods explained. "It's hard to sleep in. And I don't sleep much to begin with. It's light early.
"The golf course doesn't change much; from five in the morning to seven at night, nine at night, it's virtually the same.Peter Dawson [the chief executive of the R&A] was explaining that he's having the grounds crew cut it from No1 through 18 as a routine, to get them accustomed to that pattern for the championship. That's one of the reasons why he wants us to tee off at 7 on the 1st tee. I totally understand it."