TIGER, A WORK IN PROGRESS
TIGER Woods entered the 82nd Masters as the betting favourite despite having not competitively set foot on Augusta National since 2015.
Any questions surrounding the bookies’ decision, however, were quickly dismissed by his range session before his opening round. Fresh off two top-5s in the PGA Tour’s ‘Florida Swing’, Woods barely missed a shot on Augusta’s expansive practice facility, fuelling the excitement that one of sport’s greatest comebacks was perhaps transpiring.
But it wasn’t to be for Woods, who struggled with his ball-striking throughout the week and was never truly in the hunt.
“I felt I hit it well enough off the tee to do some things, but I hit my irons awful for the week,” Woods said after his final round 69. “I didn’t put it together when I needed to for the entire week.”
While disappointed with parts of his performance, the 42-year-old acknowledged that his game was “progressing” and continued to display his joy at simply being back competing at the highest level.
“You miss it just a touch here it gets magnified. And I just didn’t do a good enough job this week in that regard,” he said surmising his Masters performance. “But overall I’m five or six tournaments into it, to be able to compete out here and to score like I did, it feels good.
“For a couple of years I’ve just been coming here just to eat. And now to be able to play this golf course and to be able to tee it up and play in the Masters, this is one of the greatest walks in all of golf. “I missed it. I really did.” Woods’ continued enjoyment of his return to the game is easy to understand, with the state of his game surprising, and impressing, many after such a significant layoff. The 14-time major champion’s driving was improved at Augusta and his once shaky short game stood up under its most intense test yet – suggesting the next step in the progression he spoke of might be winning once again.
And his post Masters plans, which 12 months ago as he struggled to sit and walk would have been a pipe dream, sounded just like the Woods of old who won like nobody else.
“Take a little time off. Get back in the gym, start working on my body again. Get it in good shape. And get back at it again.”