Tiger is ready for Augusta...Are you?

Joe Zenzola
April 01, 2018 - 1:22 pm

© Reinhold Matay - USA Today Sports



This may be the greatest Masters tournament ever…

….well, we hope at least.

Think about it for a second…Professional golf is flourishing with many young talents: Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Rory McIlroy, Jason Day, Dustin Johnson, Jon Rahm, etc.…As fierce as this competition has been for the last several years, it’s hard for almost anyone to hold the ‘#1 golfer in the world title’ for an extended period of time. Furthermore, it’s commonplace to see a different Major champion each time we roll through the yearly schedule…Golf does not have another Tiger Woods dominating this great game…oh wait…

Tiger is back…and healthy…and competing…what year is this again?!

Look, I made this proclamation after Tiger bolted Dubai with another back injury last year.

“He’ll never win again.”

For the last several years, being the Tiger fan that I am, I tried to stay hopeful that he would get back to the greatness we all knew. However, that hope was dying fast.

In my mind, it went from “He’ll still catch Jack’s Major title record” to “He’ll win at least one more Major” to “He’ll win at least one more tournament” to “Forget it, he’s done.”

How can any golfer develop consistency in their game, while constantly taking leaves of absence to go through surgery after surgery? Let’s add to the fact that Tiger is only getting older, and the competition in the game is only getting stronger. The odds were clearly stacked against him, and I had lost faith.

And yet, Tiger Woods is defying those very odds.

Playing six tournaments since recovering from back fusion surgery, Tiger has only gotten better as he’s gone along. Since missing his only cut in Los Angeles this year, Tiger has finished 12th, tied for 2nd, and tied for 5th in his last three tournaments. Although he continues to be somewhat inconsistent, Tiger’s distance and clubhead speed off the tee is alarming. Woods has been relatively solid everywhere else; he ranks Top 15 on Tour in almost every ‘strokes gained’ statistic…approach to the green (15th), around the green (7th), and putting (14th). Yes, Tiger Woods is putting like the old Tiger Woods. He’s made some tremendous up-and-downs and has sunk a myriad of putts inside 10 feet. He’s brimming with confidence around the greens; it’s scary to think how he’ll putt at a golf course he knows better than anyone…

Augusta National.

This leads to my original ‘hot take’….

I didn't expect Tiger Woods to be playing this well so soon. It’s just not easy to get back into good form when you’ve been removed from the game for so long. From what I’ve seen each week he’s played, Tiger is certainly ready to contend at Augusta with the best of them, and it only makes the excitement for this tournament head for a record level. We’ve seen TV ratings go through the roof the last couple of weeks with Tiger in contention at these events, but now imagine him wearing his Sunday red, ready to tee it up in the final pairing at The Masters…it could become a reality.


Now please allow me to throw one more player into the mix…

Phil Mickelson.

Between Tiger and Phil, they’ve combined to win seven green jackets. Mickelson, who had not won on the PGA Tour since 2013, made a statement against Justin Thomas in a playoff by winning the WGC-Mexico Championship just last month. Phil proved that he still has it in him to compete with the best; you cannot rule him out for this week…

I’m excited for what’s to come. Golf, to me, has been fun to watch without Tiger and Phil…but with them? Holy smokes…

Jack Nicklaus shocked the world in 1986 at 46 years old to win his sixth Masters, and 18th Major Championship.

Tiger is 42; Phil is 47.

Anything is possible…This is setting up to be a very special Masters tournament. I’m guessing you’ll be watching…

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