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 2020.
Each time it’s that Woods heads to Augusta to organize for the Masters, will probably be his first time again since his stirring 2019 victory, which now looks like a protracted, very long time in the past.
The match was postponed in April due to the coronavirus pandemic, which means 19 months may have handed since Woods donned the inexperienced jacket for the fifth time. He staged a “quarantine” champions dinner at his residence in April, however his sport has seemingly by no means emerged.
Since profitable his 15th main title, Woods has performed 17 worldwide occasions, together with the Presidents Cup, with out a whole lot of success. There was the three-tournament run final fall through 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. group to victory as captain on the Presidents Cup, the place he went 3-Zero at Royal Melbourne.
Outdoors 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 occasions 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 Three over par and was by no means an element.
“I performed the par 5s terrible,” Woods stated. “This golf course is likely one of the golf programs it’s important to reap the benefits of all of the par 5s. They’re all reachable and I didn’t try this effectively this week. I performed them in all probability 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 constantly. 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 effectively. 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 occasions within the three months previous to the match, along with his greatest outcome a tie for fifth on the WGC-Match Play. He was not a back-nine contender on the Farmers Insurance coverage Open (20th), the Genesis Invitational (15th) or the WGC-Mexico Championship (10th)
However these outcomes had been much better than what we have seen since within the post-shutdown occasions. Woods’ greatest match was a tie for 37th on the PGA Championship. He missed the minimize on the U.S. Open. In every of the six tournaments he performed, Woods was by no means nearer than eight photographs by way of 36 holes.
Not less than he confirmed some flashes on the first 5 occasions, the place he gained strokes on the sector in method to the inexperienced. However even that side of his sport was off at Sherwood, the place he was close to the underside of the sector.
And never a lot else was superb. Woods was 70th within the 77-player discipline in strokes gained off the tee; 71st in stroke gained tee to inexperienced; 55th in proximity to the opening; 21st in strokes gained across the inexperienced; and 65th in strokes gained placing.
None of this bodes effectively for a title protection on the Masters, the place Woods will undoubtedly get a lift from being on such hallowed floor, however he won’t profit from spectators, since there will not be any, and he nonetheless must do what he is been unable to do all 12 months, which is put a stable 72 holes collectively.
“Work must executed,” stated Joe LaCava, Woods’ caddie. “Excellent news is he is not afraid of exhausting work. So he’ll get residence, loosen up 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 sport collectively.
“I feel all of it wants work,” LaCava stated. “And he realizes that. Nothing was actually unhealthy, however nothing was actually sharp. The most important constructive type the week is he felt fairly first rate every day. And after the rounds he nonetheless felt fairly sturdy. And people had been five-hour rounds — robust, comfortable walks. That is a very good signal.”
The hope for Woods is that the change will flip as quickly as he makes the flip off Washington Highway onto membership property.
Does hitting balls once more amid the environment of some his best success make a distinction?
Undoubtedly, Woods was moved to victory final 12 months. The circumstances this time shall 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 shall be taking part in the match for the 23rd time. “So it is not a brand new golf course, and possibly a bit bit longer and a bit bit softer [in November] than we have in all probability skilled. However you simply by no means know. This time of 12 months, it may very well be within the 70s. It may very well be within the 30s. Who is aware of?”
And who is aware of what Woods will deliver? Expectations are far decrease this time than they had been in 2019 — and even then, they weren’t sky-high, simply way more hopeful.
Maybe the perfect factor Woods has going for him is relative well being. There shall be no extra match 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 sport.
“He is definitely feeling higher than the final stretch from the PGA Championship by way of the U.S. Open,” LaCava stated. “And that, in flip, will permit him to follow. Now, he nonetheless has to place the time in and work at it. Which he’ll.”