Tony spoke to former Reuters golf correspondent Tony Jimenez about Tiger Woods’ remarkable victory at the US Masters last Sunday:
“What is there to stop Tiger from winning the other three Majors this season?
I certainly believe in him. He’s got the strongest mind in the game and he is healthy again. It’s never been done before, although Tiger himself won four in a row between 2000 and 2001, but I think he’s got a great chance of pulling off a clean sweep in a single season.
That will be his ultimate goal, I promise you. To him it will be a realistic target after having won the Masters.
We all know he played some unbelievable golf back in 2000 but he is essentially the same guy today. He’s got the same heartbeat. His long and short games are equal to the task. His putting was quite ordinary last week and his general play wasn’t spectacular over the four days but, more than anything, he was patient.
Tiger is 43 now and he knows he won’t be as fit as Phil Mickelson, for example, is now at the age of 48. He knows he’s only got three or four more years to achieve his dream of surpassing Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 Major wins. He will have an urgency to get it done.
There are some great players at the top of the game like Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth but none of them can match his experience. He’s won 15 Majors, 80 tour events in total, and has been in the winner’s enclosure more than anyone else.
There really is nothing to stop him. Nobody delivers like Tiger. He always manages to find a way. He’s amazing. He was in a golfing trance at Augusta and he simply doesn’t have days when he gets jittery or unsure.
It was interesting to see how he was chewing gum all week. It was obviously to keep his concentration up and to keep him in the zone.
I remember a conversation I had a couple of years ago with 2005 US Open champion Michael Campbell, who played a lot with Tiger when he was dominating world golf in his younger days, and he gave me a fascinating insight into the mind games he plays with himself in order to stay completely focused on the job in hand.
For him it is all about getting in that cocoon of concentration where you don’t think about nerves and Michael mentioned three or four things that help Tiger retain his intense focus.
Michael explained how Tiger counts in his own mind how many strides he takes in a minute. He also times how long it takes for a putt to drop into the hole and that he knows his left foot touches the ground something like 80 times a minute.
These are things other golfers don’t do but for Tiger it is about staying in that cocoon of concentration where you are giving yourself the absolute maximum chance of getting the job done.
You don’t feel nerves, you are oblivious to peripheral circumstances, you’re almost playing from the inside, playing from the heart, and in that trance-like state nothing fazes you. You’ve almost got a protective shield around you. It’s a wonderful thing.”