Woods will find it tough to focus on his return, says Monty

By Tony Jimenez

LONDON (Reuters) - Tiger Woods will find it almost impossible to fully focus on his golf when he returns after the recent revelations over his private life, according to European Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie.

The eight-times European number one went through a much-publicized divorce in 2006 and knows how pressures off the course can affect performance on it.

Woods has taken an indefinite break from golf following a media storm that culminated in the world number one publicly admitting being unfaithful to his wife.

"It is absolutely impossible to play good golf (with all that going on)," said Montgomerie in an interview with Sky Sports.

"There was a reason why Tiger didn't win a major last year, the first year for a long time. We now understand possibly the reasons why.

"I can only speak for myself and say during a time like that you can just about make it to the next tee if you make a birdie or a par but with a bogey the world collapses around you," added the 46-year-old Briton.

Montgomerie said negative thoughts about his own private life were difficult to shrug off when he was going through turmoil.

"A round of golf is an emotional roller-coaster anyway," said the Scot. "I think it must have been similar for him.

"When you hit a shot and it goes left or right into the woods, immediately thoughts creep in during the long, two to three-minute walk to find the ball.

"It (the scandal) will impact on every tournament Tiger plays. Let's hope the tabloid press finish quickly and we get on supporting golf."

MYSTIQUE GONE

Montgomerie is one of the few top players to comment on the Woods situation since allegations about the 14-times major winner's private life surfaced after he was involved in a minor car accident outside his home in November.

"I think the mystique has gone," said the Ryder Cup skipper. "I think the mysterious nature of the guy has gone.

"He is suddenly, you hate to say, more normal now. Let's hope golf isn't damaged by that.

"There is no question there was an aura about Tiger Woods over this incredible record he has, not just in majors but in other world events.

"That wall has been split slightly and there are cracks. It gives us more opportunity to find ways of winning these events now and I am thinking of myself as well as my peers."

Montgomerie said golfers everywhere were appreciative of Woods's impact on the sport.

"I think it is like Arnold Palmer for the American tour in the past and Seve Ballesteros for us in Europe," he said. "We are playing for the money we are today because of those two players.

"With Tiger he became a global ambassador for golf, therefore the whole world of golf benefited from Tiger.

"We in Europe have benefited, as Asia has, as Australia has, as South Africa has, as America has. It is a great debt to him that we are playing and sponsorship is as strong as it is in golf right now."

(Editing by Sonia Oxley)