Spi­eth cer­tain he is the man to beat at Mas­ters

Arab News - - SPORTS -

close to his best at the re­cent Arnold Palmer In­vi­ta­tional and at the Valspar Cham­pi­onship.

Woods, who at a low point doubted he would ever play com­pet­i­tive golf again, has seen in­ter­est in his come­back tale at age 42 send re­sale prices for Mas­ters badges soar­ing sev­eral thou­sand dol­lars above face value. He has not won a ma­jor since the 2008 US Open, has not won a tour­na­ment since the 2013 WGC Bridge­stone In­vi­ta­tional, has not played in a Ma­jor since miss­ing the cut at the 2015 PGA Cham­pi­onship and last won the Mas­ters in 2005.

A streak of 12 rounds at par or bet­ter has shown Woods has re­gained his health. This week will tell if he has found the form that made him a global su­per­star.

“It’s a lot dif­fer­ent from the first two come­backs. He wasn’t ready,” said Aus­tralia’s Ja­son Day. “He came back too soon. Now he’s hit­ting it longer than be­fore.”

That’s part of the rea­son some odd­s­mak­ers have made Woods the tour­na­ment fa­vorite.

“That’s kind of funny,” Woods said. “Six months ago the odds were I wasn’t even go­ing to play.”

Woods played two nine-hole prac­tice rounds two weeks ago at Au­gusta Na­tional, his first at the course since the fi­nal round in 2015.

“They resur­faced a few of the greens but they still look like they have been there for 100 years,” Woods said. “My yardage book was ba­si­cally the same.”

AMER­I­CAN

ACE: Jor­dan Spi­eth has never fin­ished lower than 11th at the Mas­ters in four pre­vi­ous vis­its. (Reuters)

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