Nick Faldo today offered Tiger Woods some simple advice on how to repair his tarnished public image.
“Give,” was the 52-year-old’s response when asked what Woods needs to do to win over any fans alienated by the sex scandal involving the world number one which erupted last November after he crashed a car outside his Florida home.
“You give to them, they will give back. Simple as that. If you’re giving in any way, with smiles, comments, waves, good thoughts, I’m sure it will all come back.”
On how Woods has acted since his return, Faldo added: “Tiger is doing his own thing. He always has. Tiger has been Tiger for the 15 years he’s been out here. He believes he’s doing the right thing, so it’s his choice how he wants to do it.”
Despite poor form this season by his own incredibly high standards – he has still finished fourth in the both the Masters and US Open – Woods remains favourite to win a third Claret Jug at St Andrews, his fourth in total and 15th Major title on Sunday evening.
However, Faldo believes the home challenge is stronger than ever and a first English Major winner since he claimed a third Masters title in 1996 could be on the cards.
Faldo, who was also the last Englishman to win the Open back in 1992, said: “It’s very possible. Obviously it’s going to be a tough test if the weather is bad and it could be a little bit of luck of the draw of what you get out of the first couple of days, but it wouldn’t surprise me.
“Obviously Justin Rose might be a very obvious first choice (after two wins in three starts in America). He’s played really well the last month, seems to have found something in the game, in his mind and everything.
“Lee (Westwood) is very solid tee to green, which St Andrews is really all about.
“I think the guys are giving 100% and they’re gaining experience, which we always talk about, and they’ve had way more of that. For me that was what spurred me on. I was actually in the hunt here in 1978 for a while and obviously in 1983 (at Birkdale) I blew it well and truly and I learnt from that, worked on my swing and got myself back into it.
“I think everybody is learning and everybody is really keen. I think something is going to happen this week.”
As for second favourite Rory McIlroy, fellow Irishman and US Open champion Graeme McDowell may feel that his aggressive approach does not suit a US Open venue like Pebble Beach, but Faldo believes it could pay off on the Old Course.
“It probably will,” he added. “You can play aggressive here. You have to be really respectful of the bunkering, obviously, but you can play pretty aggressive.
“You’ve got the par fives and four of the par fours are driveable so being aggressive with the driver would be great, if you can pull that off.”
Asked if McIlroy has the game to challenge on Sunday at the age of 21, Faldo added: “I think definitely to challenge.
“Finishing it off... the way he finished off at Quail Hollow was really impressive. To take the lead after nine holes of the final round I thought: ’Well, that was all right, let’s see what he does on the back nine’, and he shoots 32 on the back nine.
“That was really impressive. He knows if he gets his nose in front, he can do it.”