The Open - Watson not surprised by Woods's slump

Reuters - Wed, 07 Jul 15:24:00 2010

Tom Watson says it is only natural that Tiger Woods's fall from grace is so visibly affecting his game.

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"His life is a lot more complicated now. He doesn't hear that absolute silence when he's playing, and he mentioned when he's playing his best he hears nothing," the American eight-times Major winner said.

"I'm sure there are things going on in his mind that make it very difficult for him."

World number one Woods confessed to a string of extra-marital affairs earlier this year.

His preparations for the Open next week at St.

Andrews, where he won the Claret Jug in 2000 and 2005, have come under scrutiny, with the American flying home to be with his children instead of having his usual prolonged stay in Europe.

Watson said Woods's busy flying schedule was not a problem ahead of the year's third Major.

"I used to come over five or six days early, simply because I wanted to get the time change. That was the first thing. I don't think what he is doing is risky," Watson said at Sunningdale Golf Club where he was launching his instructional DVD on golf.

"That kid was so much better than the rest when he came out and he evolved into a golf swing that really worked for him. He has some difficulties with the golf swing now," Watson said of Woods, who has won 14 Majors, four behind the record of fellow American Jack Nicklaus.

Watson spoke fondly of his rivalry with Nicklaus during the 1970s and 1980s.

"He managed the course better than anyone else ever did, with the least risk possible. He wore you out, he made fewer mistakes," the 60-year-old said of his compatriot and friend, with whom he famously contested the 'Duel in the Sun' at the 1977 Open at Turnberry.

Last year at the same venue Watson almost became the oldest Major winner at 59 but he lost in the playoff to compatriot Stewart Cink.

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