Strange empathizes with Tiger's mental fight to win again
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[June 16, 2018]
By Andrew Both
SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. (Reuters) - Curtis
Strange, like Tiger Woods, peaked in his early 30s so he understands
better than most the mental battles the 14-times major champion is
fighting as he tries to regain his old magic.
Strange never won again on the PGA Tour after clinching his second
successive U.S. Open title in 1989, at the age of 34.
Woods, now 42 years old, has not captured a major since the 2008
U.S. Open when he was 32, though he continued to win regular
tournaments until 2013, when a chronic back problem reared its
Now healthy again, Woods is seeking to put it all back together,
both physically and mentally, as he tries to mount a comeback and
end his five-year victory drought.
"The comeback is much tougher than the initial climb to the top, and
the toughest part of the comeback is believing in yourself," Curtis
told Reuters at Shinnecock Hills on Friday as Woods was on his way
to missing the halfway cut.
"He seemed to be doing that of recent week or months. It's got to be
hugely disappointing for him yesterday."
Strange was referring to the eight-over-par 78 Woods shot in
Thursday's first round, his worst-ever score at a U.S. Open.
Strange, in his role as a television analyst, walked all 18 holes
with Woods and watched in astonishment as the player triple-bogeyed
the first hole.
"It's tough to work so hard and prepare so hard, and probably in his
mind have such great expectations and make triple bogey on the first
"In my life I never did that, so I really can't put myself in his
shoes, but I must say it would be very, very tough to stay up, keep
the energy up."
Strange was impressed with the way Woods steadied himself for a
time, until a four-putt at the 13th hole undid all the hard work he
had done to steady the ship.
"He leveled off and was playing pretty well until the four-putt at
13. That took probably an incredible amount of energy out of him."
[to top of second column]
Tiger Woods walks through the rough to the ninth green during the
second round of the U.S. Open golf tournament at Shinnecock Hills GC
- Shinnecock Hills Golf C. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY
Strange never had to deal with a potentially career-ending injury in
the way Woods has, but nonetheless battled for consistent excellence
after falling short in his quest in 1990 to become the first player
to win three straight U.S. Opens.
So when did Strange, interviewed as part of his role as a golf
testimonee for Rolex, a partner of the U.S. Golf Association since
1980, suspect that his best golf was behind him? And when did he
know for sure?
"I did play some good golf after (1990) but it was sporadic," said
Strange, a fiery competitor whose intensity was not unlike that of
"I had a tough time getting up for practice and for Thursday and
"It was three or four years after that that I realized this is the
way it is.
"Because by that time I was getting to be 38 or 39. So you're not
going to get a whole lot better at 38 or 39."
Not that Strange is ready to write off Woods yet.
"If he does win again that will do wonders for his confidence. That
might propel him to do really well.
"But you have to do two things. You have to drive the ball better
than he drives the ball. He only hits half the fairways.
"You're not going to beat many people doing that. And he's been
struggling on the greens, but he'll get that back."
(Reporting by Andrew Both; Editing by Ian Chadband)
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