It’s that time of the year again. The snow is melting, the weather is getting warmer and the flowers are starting to bloom which can mean one thing, it’s almost time for the Masters. The Masters, every golf enthusiasts Super Bowl weekend.
The four-day span where anyone with even the slightest interest in the sport subconsciously spends four days at Augusta National. College Students across the country paying no attention to whatever lecture they are in as they stream the tournament on their laptops. Office buddies start their work pools, collect the $20 buy-ins and root for their selected golfers (I’m all in on Tiger this year).
In honor of the most wonderful time of the year, I’m going to be telling you everything you need to know about the top players in the tournament every day until it’s time to tee off, and I cannot think of a better player to start with other than the G.O.A.T himself, Tiger Woods.
Tiger Woods. What other name is more synonymous with Major golf championships and the sport itself than Tiger Woods? From his iconic win at Valhalla in 2000, winning on a 3-hole playoff, to announcing to the world that Tiger Woods was back. From winning the Tour Championship back last September, to completing a long-time comeback after his career went spiraling out of control due to a conflict with his ex-wife.
Now this is not the same Tiger Woods from previous years at his peak of dominance. Tigers pre-accident form was categorized by laser focus, a cut-throat demeanor and an insatiable hunger for first place.
The Tiger of today, while still has championships and wins on the forefront of his mind, is also having fun while playing. Tiger was seen smiling and making good natured fun with Kevin Na last week at The Players, when Na prematurely reached for his ball from the cup after sinking a put, with Tiger mockingly doing the same after sinking his shot.
The man has been won virtually everywhere so why not have some fun, and while he has said that he will only play while he is competitive, why not have some fun on the tail end of your career.
Tiger’s play at Sawgrass last weekend was very up and down. He shot 70, 71, 72 and 69 respectively (espn.com), with his 72 coming largely as a result of the tricky 17th hole (surrounded by water on three sides), which halted his rally with a quadruple-bogey seven on the par four.
While he was not throwing around mid-’60s like many of the pack leaders that weekend, he was able to move the ball both ways off the drive. Coming off a neck injury which caused him to withdraw from the Arnold Palmer Invitational, this result, which placed him at 30 was promising, with one tournament to go before the big weekend.
My analysis: improve iron play and he should just about be there.
Through three full rounds and part of the fourth, he was in contention. He was putting the ball where he wanted it and was within 5 shots of the lead with one round left to play. A DISASTEROUS double-bogey seven, which involved him four putting derailed his would be challenge for the lead on Sunday.
In addition to that, while attempting to hit out from behind vegetation, clammed his 9 iron on a tree and bent it to the point where he could not bend it back into shape, thus causing him to have to strong arm his wedge on midrange shots for the rest of the round.
My analysis: improve putting (was much better in the players).
The Bottom Line
The days of picking Tiger vs. the field are long over, but I do not think that it is far fetched that Tiger can make a run here. He showed that he got his putting under control in the Players Championship. If he can swing his irons the way he wants to and keep up with the top two going into Sunday, there is no reason to think he cannot make a play for another green jacket.
Tiger Woods knows the course inside and out, knows what it takes to perform at such a challenging course and respects the legacy. No two performances in golf are alike but, given recent form, I’m predicting Tiger places in the top-five and re-establishes himself within the current golf elite.
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