05 April 2015

Tiger Woods playing in the Masters is poised to be a mess

(AP)
As March Madness winds down to an end on Monday, the eyes of the sports world are beginning to shift to Augusta and the upcoming Masters Tournament. Now with the Friday announcement that Tiger Woods would in fact be playing in his first tournament in two months, there is now a new and significant storyline with this year's tournament.

However, I think that Woods could end up making headlines for the wrong reasons and may regret this decision. Here is why.

Going into last week, I was going to be pretty surprised if Woods ultimately would compete in the Masters this week. However, as soon as Woods was reported to play some tune-up rounds at Augusta National, it seemed like it would be a pretty sure sign that he was going to be playing for the green jacket.

But then the news came out that Woods, in a practice round on Tuesday, shot a 74 at 2-over par. He did have five birdies but a number of his chip shots were wayward, as per the Golfweek report.

The fact that he shot a 74 is not that big of a deal because, as his former coach Hank Haney noted, he shot higher than 80 in his two practice rounds at Augusta in 2010 and then went on to finish fourth. The chipping is a problem especially as his short game was a disaster when he was last playing in tournament play earlier this year. After all at Phoenix, he was chipping it three times as far from the hole as the worst player on the PGA Tour.

These short game struggles will only be magnified at Augusta, where precision and accuracy are vital. It's not a course like any other and even some practice rounds there are not the equivalent of playing in the tournament with a magnifying glass on every shot.

Ultimately, there was no way that Tiger was going to go to Augusta, play some rounds and decide to not play, even if it was the better move. That would have been a truly stinging endorsement of his game and been a nice setback to his return after his disastrous play earlier this year. However, it does not seem like Woods has his game all the way back, and it may not be close. He has got even odds just to make the cut and quite frankly, I would be surprised if he does.

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