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Tiger's new guru.

Byline: By Nick Rippington Wales on Sunday

If i was Tiger Woods I would be the first to offer Nick Faldo a job when he finally puts away his golf clubs.

Judging by the performance of Woods on the first day of The Open at Hoylake (BBC2), some well-documented words by six-times major winner Faldo inspired him to great things.

The two men hadn't spoken for 18 months before they were paired together in the first round. The cause of the dispute was a TV interview in which Faldo had criticised Woods' swing after he'd played a bad golf shot. The cheek of it!

And if the American superstar needed any incentive to put his heart and soul into a round, it came with the sight of Faldo alongside him on the first tee.

I don't think I've seen the brilliant Woods any more focused than he was in that round. He started badly by missing a 'gimme' putt of about two feet, but never let it get to him.

And as Faldo hacked his way around the course, Woods hung in desperately, despite never playing at his best.

On the 10th, for instance, he played his way into a green-side bunker and, horror of horrors, failed to get out at his first attempt. Yet, where most of us would have taken wilder and wilder slashes in the hope of eventually plonking the ball on the green, the Tiger calmly placed his ball within feet of the hole to rescue his par.

From that moment you knew he was going to keep up the pressure on early leader Graeme McDowell.

And he didn't disappoint, pulling back stroke after stroke until he finished the day just one off the lead - a situation he built on by going top of the pile the following day.

As Faldo and Woods left the green later, you could sense a slight smirk crossing the American's lips as he finished 10 shots ahead of the crowd favourite.

But think, Tiger! In these days of psychological gurus, perhaps the grumpy outlook of Faldo is just what you need to motivate you to bigger and bigger things.

The Beeb have some interesting new innovations for their Open coverage - including a speed gun like the one they used to test the pace of fast bowlers in cricket.

And I can't help thinking this is the presenting job Gary Lineker has been made for. How fitting that old jug ears will be there to carry out the interviews when the claret jug is presented.

NICK RIPPINGTON
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Wales On Sunday (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Jul 23, 2006
Words:426
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