| Tiger Woods practises after the pro-am at Thousand Oaks in California Wednesday. (AP/PTI)
Melbourne: American world number one Tiger Woods is so good he makes even six-times major winner Nick Faldo sit back in awe, the Briton said Thursday.
“What Tiger has been doing did inspire me,” Faldo told a news conference after carding a two-over-par 74 in the first round of the Australian Masters in wet and windy conditions in Melbourne.
“You learn from the guy,” added 45-year-old Faldo, who is enjoying the twin roles of rival and on-course mentor for younger players such as American teenager Ty Tryon.
Asked if the 18-year-old, who had a 74 playing alongside Faldo at the Huntingdale course, was welcome to pick the Englishman’s brain during the round, Faldo said: “Of course he is. I enjoy it. I get a big kick out of it.”
Faldo said Woods had shown the golfing world how to take the game to a new level. “Ability is not enough any more. You’ve got to be physically strong, you’ve got to have a good diet and understand that, you’ve got to be mentally strong and understand the mental side of the game,” Faldo said.
“So you need a complete package. Tiger has proved that. He is streets ahead of everybody in all three of those areas.”
Faldo said he had employed a sports psychologist in 1982, at a time when such things had to be kept quiet. “They thought you were loopy if you talked to a psychologist,” Faldo said.
“I tried eating all the nuts and berries and a bag of grass... I think it comes down to each individual’s commitment.”
Faldo said his experience had helped him in the tough conditions on Thursday.
“It was a seasoned campaigner’s day today, wasn’t it' Where the experience, all my eight million rounds of golf, came in there,” he said.
Tryon said he had not played in worse conditions. “On number five when it was raining and windy, I did not have my rain gear. I just had a vest and pants,” the 18-year-old told a news conference. “I did not think if it rained like that we would play in it. I did not know you had hurricanes in Australia. It has been a long round (five-and-a-half hours).”
The American said he was thrilled to play with his boyhood idol Faldo. “It was a real treat, considering I have watched him win a lot of majors on TV,” Tryon said.
“To be playing with him is really neat. It is a dream come true. He never hits a shot if he is not comfortable. I think you can learn a lot from that.”