Colin Montgomerie believes that when Tiger Woods returns to golf he may struggle to regain the iconic status he had before the lurid allegations about his private life emerged.
Montgomerie believes that Woods faces a massive battle to resume his major-winning dominance of the sport when he ends his indefinite leave of absence to continue what has been a remarkable career.
The Scot said: “That mystique has gone slightly. He will come back, but whether he will come back as that iconic player I'm not so sure.
“He's disproved everybody so far and no doubt he'll come back and win more majors. I think it'll be tougher now, but he'll be out to prove to everybody that he can still do it under extreme pressure.”
European Ryder Cup captain Montgomerie admits he hopes Woods makes himself available for the trans-Atlantic showpiece at Celtic Manor later this year in spite of the threat he would pose to Europe's chances of claiming the trophy.
Montgomerie added: “We'd love to have him play in the Ryder Cup, but no-one's quite sure how long this absence from the game is going to be. Let's hope it's a lot shorter than some people have mentioned.
“It's a shame and a pity this has happened to our iconic sportsman and I say that as a fellow player who has admired him as a golfer.
“You just hope things sort themselves out and he gets back to playing golf and winning tournaments.”
Meanwhile, Sixty-year-old Tom Watson has entered the European Tour's Dubai Desert Classic, which begins on February 4.
Only a closing bogey stopped Watson winning a record-equalling sixth Open title last summer. At 59-years-old he would have been the oldest winner of a major in golf history, by some 11 years.
“I am anxious to visit Dubai since I have heard so many good things about it,” he said.
“I am very appreciative for the invitation to compete.
“The tournament has attracted some of the best golfers in the world and the winners' list is quite impressive — I would be very proud and pleased to be able to add my name to that list.”