Tiger suggests game will be fine

Updated: May 10, 2012, 9:05 AM ET
By Bob Harig | ESPN.com

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- There is no shortage of analysis whenever Tiger Woods struggles, as has been the case since he followed up a victory at the Arnold Palmer Invitational with a poor Masters and a missed cut last week at the Wells Fargo Championship.

But Woods suggested again Tuesday that short-term frustration is part of the process for him as he continues to work through a swing change with coach Sean Foley.

"Guys, I've done this before. I've been through this," Woods said during a news conference Tuesday at TPC Sawgrass, where The Players Championship begins Thursday. "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.

"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."

Woods has talked often of the struggles he has endured after committing to changes under Butch Harmon, and then Hank Haney, and now Foley. After Harmon changed his swing following the 1997 Masters, it was more than two years before Woods won another major -- and then he went on a run of seven out of 11.

After parting ways with Harmon, Haney became Woods' coach in 2004. Yet it wasn't until 2005 that Woods started winning again, going on to capture 31 PGA Tour titles and six majors with Haney as his instructor.

Woods began working with Foley at the 2010 PGA Championship, but lost four months of tour time last year due to injury. He has won twice, including the unofficial Chevron World Challenge, but last week missed just the eighth cut of his professional career.

"The bottom line is for me, he just doesn't have the self-belief, the self-confidence that he obviously had, the Tiger of old. Simple as that," six-time major champion Nick Faldo, who is an analyst for Golf Channel and CBS, said during a conference call Tuesday to promote the Players.

Said Woods: "I always find it interesting since they're not in my head. They must have some kind of superpower I don't know about."

During that same conference call, Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee, a former PGA Tour player, said: "He's got just very complicated swing thoughts going on, and he's been at it for the better part of two years trying to incorporate these, supposedly one of the best athletes, trying to incorporate these swing thoughts over two years. It's just sad."

Said Woods: "Well, I can understand that everyone has an opinion, and he's entitled to his. But he's no longer playing anymore, so, so be it."

Woods is playing The Players Championship for the 15th time, but his most recent experiences at TPC Sawgrass are not positive.

Last year he withdrew after a front-nine 42, not nearly ready to return from Achilles and knee injuries suffered at the Masters. He didn't play again until August.

He also withdrew during the final round in 2010 with an upper back issue. Woods has just one top-10 finish at the Players since winning in 2001, an eighth in 2009. He has just three top-10s total, including a runner-up finish in 2000. Woods also won the first of his three U.S. Amateur titles here, in 1994, when he rallied from 6-down to defeat Trip Kuehne.

"It's either I've done really well or I haven't," he said. "When you're off on this golf course, you're going to get penalized pretty severely. But when you're on this golf course, it seems pretty easy."

Woods begins play Thursday off the 10th tee at 8:39 a.m. ET with Hunter Mahan and Rickie Fowler, who won his first PGA Tour event on Sunday at the Wells Fargo Championship.

Bob Harig | email

Golf Writer, ESPN.com