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The Early Lead
Posted at 10:37 AM ET, 05/09/2012

Tiger Woods faces down his critics at the Players


Tiger Woods hits a tee shot during a practice round today for the Players Championship. (Sam Greenwood / Getty Images)

Since the implosion of his personal life and golf game, Tiger Woods has faced questions about changing swing coaches and caddies, injuries and and the constant tweaking of his game.

This week, as he prepares to play in The Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedre Beach, Fla., the psychoanalysis continued, from the estimable golf writer Dan Jenkins and Sir Nick Faldo, winner of six majors. Woods was having no more of it.

“Guys, I've done this before. I've been through this,” Woods told reporters Tuesday. “Actually a lot of you guys actually lived it with me, went through those periods where I wasn't quite where I wanted to be. I had some pretty good runs after that, and this is no different.


See? Tiger Woods was amused by the work of amateur psychologists. (Chris O'Meara / AP)
“It takes a little bit of time, and I keep building, and things eventually come around to where they feel natural and efficient. I think that's probably the most important word is that you get out there and you feel efficient in what you're doing.”

Perhaps. But Woods didn’t make the cut in the Wells Fargo Championship last week and has withdrawn from the Players the last two years because of injuries. Last year, he was forced out by a leg injury he’d suffered in the Masters and didn’t play again until August.

“The bottom line is that he just doesn’t have the self-belief, the confidence he obviously had before. This has been going on for longer than he wants,” Faldo said. “For the first time in his career Tiger has fears. ... If he fears losing his ball to the right, he’s pulling it hard left.”

Continuing to channel his inner Dr. Phil, Faldo added: “The crash and burn in his personal life has had a huge effect. He’s a different guy, physically, technically and in karma. We shouldn’t compare him to the old Tiger. This is the Tiger we’ve got now.”

That drew out the tiger in Tiger.

“I always find it interesting since they're not in my head,” Woods said with a smile. “They must have some kind of superpower I don't know about.”

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By  |  10:37 AM ET, 05/09/2012

 
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