Can Tiger Woods discover his lacking recreation in time for the Masters?

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. — A visit to Augusta Nationwide is feasible this week for Tiger Woods, and maybe that memorable journey down Magnolia Lane and the accompanying good-vibes jolt from being on the property will spark one thing now we have but to see in 2000.

Each time it’s that Woods heads to Augusta to organize for the Masters, it will likely be his first time again since his stirring 2019 victory, which now looks like a protracted, very long time in the past.

The event was postponed in April due to the coronavirus pandemic, which means 19 months can have handed since Woods donned the inexperienced jacket for the fifth time. He staged a “quarantine” champions dinner at his house in April, however his recreation has seemingly by no means emerged.

Since successful his fifteenth main title, Woods has performed 17 worldwide occasions, together with the Presidents Cup, with out loads of success. There was the three-tournament run final fall during which he received the Zozo Championship for his 82nd PGA Tour victory, completed fourth on the Hero World Problem, after which led the U.S. staff to victory as captain on the Presidents Cup, the place he went 3-0 at Royal Melbourne.

Exterior of these tournaments, Woods had three missed cuts and a withdrawal, and his solely two top-10s had been ninth-place finishes on the 2019 Memorial and the 2020 Farmers Insurance coverage Open.

Even a return this weekend to Sherwood Nation Membership — the place he received his personal World Problem charity occasion 5 instances and completed runner-up on one other 5 events — could not produce any magic, as Woods performed his first 9 holes of his title protection of the relocated Zozo Championship in 3 over par and was by no means an element.

“I performed the par 5s terrible,” Woods stated. “This golf course is among the golf programs it’s important to benefit from all of the par 5s. They’re all reachable and I didn’t try this properly this week. I performed them most likely round even par [actually 3 under] if not over par for the week.

“I didn’t drive the ball and did not hit my irons shut sufficient persistently. The one factor I can take out of this week that I did positively, I really feel like every day and just about each gap is I putted properly. I really feel like I rolled it nice. Sadly, they had been all — most of them had been for pars and a pair for bogeys right here and there, however not sufficient for birdies.”

The lead-up to the Masters in 2019 noticed Woods play 5 instances within the three months previous to the event, together with his finest outcome a tie for fifth on the WGC-Match Play. He was not a back-nine contender on the Farmers Insurance coverage Open (twentieth), the Genesis Invitational (fifteenth) or the WGC-Mexico Championship (tenth)

However these outcomes had been much better than what we have seen since within the post-shutdown occasions. Woods’ finest event was a tie for thirty seventh on the PGA Championship. He missed the reduce on the U.S. Open. In every of the six tournaments he performed, Woods was by no means nearer than 8 photographs by 36 holes.

A minimum of he confirmed some flashes on the first 5 occasions, the place he gained strokes on the sphere in strategy to the inexperienced. However even that side of his recreation was off at Sherwood, the place he was close to the underside of the sphere.

And never a lot else was superb. Woods was seventieth within the 77-player area in strokes gained off the tee; 71st in stroke gained tee to inexperienced; fifty fifth in proximity to the opening; twenty first in strokes gained across the inexperienced; and sixty fifth in strokes gained placing.

None of this bodes properly for a title protection on the Masters, the place Woods will undoubtedly get a lift from being on such hallowed floor, however he is not going to profit from spectators, since there will not be any, and he nonetheless must do what he is been unable to do all yr, which is put a stable 72 holes collectively.

“Work must carried out,” stated Joe LaCava, Woods’ caddie. “Excellent news is he isn’t afraid of exhausting work. So he’ll get house, chill out for a few days and get after it.”

LaCava stated Woods didn’t say something to him about Houston. Woods stated he’d make a name early within the week. Both approach, Woods pledged to be again coaching Monday to attempt to put the items of his recreation collectively.

“I feel all of it wants work,” LaCava stated. “And he realizes that. Nothing was actually unhealthy, however nothing was actually sharp. The largest constructive kind the week is he felt fairly first rate every day. And after the rounds he nonetheless felt fairly robust. And people had been five-hour rounds — robust, mushy walks. That is signal.”

The hope for Woods is that the swap will flip as quickly as he makes the flip off Washington Street onto membership property.

Does hitting balls once more amid the environment of some his biggest success make a distinction?

Undoubtedly, Woods was moved to victory final yr. The circumstances this time can be far totally different. He is aware of that and wonders about it like everybody else.

“Effectively, I do know the golf course,” stated Woods, who can be enjoying the event for the twenty third time. “So it is not a brand new golf course, and possibly a bit of bit longer and a bit of bit softer [in November] than we have most likely skilled. However you simply by no means know. This time of yr, it could possibly be within the 70s. It could possibly be within the 30s. Who is aware of?”

And who is aware of what Woods will convey? Expectations are far decrease this time than they had been in 2019 — and even then, they weren’t sky-high, simply rather more hopeful.

Maybe the most effective factor Woods has going for him is relative well being. There can be no extra event golf for him in 2020 after the Masters. He can push himself extra, and whether it is true that he’s actually feeling first rate, possibly he can get after the deficiencies in his recreation.

“He is definitely feeling higher than the final stretch from the PGA Championship by the U.S. Open,” LaCava stated. “And that, in flip, will enable him to observe. Now, he nonetheless has to place the time in and work at it. Which he’ll.”

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