The World Prepares for The Masters

With a familiar favorite back at the top of his game, Augusta National could hold a historic tournament this weekend.

J.P.
Posted on 4/8/2013

Of the five PGA Tour events that Tiger Woods has competed in so far this year, he has won three.

Like the towering oak outside Augusta National’s clubhouse, Tiger Woods will cast a considerable shadow over this year’s Masters. With his trunk once again in perfect alignment over putts, Woods, a four-time champion, arrives at the men’s first major of the year as the world’s No. 1 golfer and the prohibitive favorite.

Steve Stricker, a friend who is considered one of the tour’s better putters, straightened Woods’s posture in an impromptu hourlong session last month, and his rhythmic putting stroke clicked into place. In his last 144 holes, Woods has made 35 putts longer than 8 feet, the range that proved his ruination two years ago, when he made the turn on Sunday with a shot at winning the Masters.

The adjustments Woods has made on the greens are subtle.

“If you look at Tiger, what he’s doing on his setup and all that, you really can’t see any difference,” said the ESPN analyst Andy North, a two-time major champion.

There are the technical tweaks that have brought a 15th major title into sharp focus for Woods, and then there are the intangibles, which are easier to discern. On the greens or on his own, Woods is trusting, not trying. For the first time since he drove his car into a fire hydrant in 2009 and his world spun out of control, he seems, as Stricker put it, “a little more at peace or at ease with himself.”

Pairings and tee times for the first round will be announced tomorrow, Tuesday, April 9th. Round one coverage begins Thursday morning on CBS.

 

Tiger Woods.

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