Pacific Palisades, Calif. — Before Tiger Woods announced that he would resurface in earnest at this week’s Accenture Match Play Championship, many suggested that the win-or-go-home event was an illogical choice for Woods’s return. A first-round loss, after all, would send Woods packing after 18 measly holes, or even fewer. Not much of a tune-up.
Nick Faldo says that thinking is daft.
“Picking the Match Play was a really smart move,” Faldo said Sunday evening after calling the action for CBS at the Northern Trust Open at Riviera Country Club. “There’s no scorecard in your hand.”
Faldo said the match-play format will allow Woods to get away with a few loose swings—or holes—and still advance, while simultaneously keeping him engaged should he struggle to find his form. “Match play keeps you really switched on,” Faldo said. “Because it doesn’t matter where you are, you could be thinking, ‘I could still hole this 30-yard chip shot.’ ”
Woods has something else going for him, Faldo said: the immense pressure that will burden his competitors, beginning with his first-round foe, Brendan Jones of Australia. “Can you imagine the media attention on every single match?” Faldo said. “Guys are going to be in his opponents’ ears the night before. Then they’ll arrive at the tee, and the world will be watching. Good luck.”
Faldo said he had heard that Woods’s recent forays onto the course had been intensely scrutinized by a trainer to ensure that Woods's left leg is sound. “I’ve heard he goes on the course with his swing coach, Hank Haney, and the trainer and hits one shot and the guy says, ‘No, that muscle’s not supporting this,’ and so it’s right back to the gym,” Faldo said.
“He’s the $6 billion man—and change,” Faldo added. “I think he wants to come back and scare everybody. It won’t shock me if he wins.”