Tiger Woods was back at Augusta on Monday preparing for the Masters, his first golf tournament in two months and by all accounts he looks more impressive than anybody could have managed.
Woods started his day practicing chip shots, the one area of his game that has been the biggest problem recently. His short game was so bad that his ex-coach speculated that Tiger had the yips.
But if Woods did have the yips he appears to have gotten over them as he looked relaxed and hit his shots with confidence, even sinking a couple.
While that would have been enough to make observers feel better about Tiger’s game, it was what he did next that now has people wondering if he can actual contend at this week’s Masters.
Woods played 11 holes in a practice round and the reviews were, well, almost shocking.
Jason Sobel of ESPN went as far as to say Woods “looked like the Tiger of old.”
By all accounts, Tiger looked like the Tiger of old today. Bombed his drives, didn’t miss a green and made a handful of birdies.
— Jason Sobel (@JasonSobelESPN) April 6, 2015
Chris Gay of Augusta.com added that Woods birdied the first hole, reached the par-5 second hole in two shots, and then hit his approach shots close to the pins on Nos. 3, 4, and 7.
In a week when one analyst speculated that there was no way Woods could fix his “catastrophically bad” short game in 8 weeks and a fellow golfer felt Woods could not be physically or mentally prepared to battle Augusta, Woods game sounds as good as it has been a while.
In fact, as much as people were impressed with his golf game, several people also took note of how well Woods looked mentally. In addition to fist-bumping kids near the No. 8 green, Woods was listening to music and dancing during his practice at the chipping greens.
He even gave Mark O’Meara a gigantic bear hug.
He just looked like he was having fun for the first time in a long time.
“If the range swagger was a statement, the body language on course all but spilled over the top. Woods blew his first tee shot into his usual spot on the 9th fairway, where Woods also gets his mail when he’s in Augusta. Anyway, Woods then hit his approach to six feet and he quickly knocked in a birdie as if it was a mere afterthought. He then took two wedges and two balls, and the crowd grew eerily quiet. But Woods moved around the diabolical first green hitting all manner of shots, showing no signs of distress … A few in the gallery of 500 or so patrons gasped at his sleek physique, but otherwise welcomed him back with various shout-outs. Playing partner O’Meara eventually ran out of putts to try on a green he’s seen plenty, turning to watch the downright jovial Woods chip before moving to the putter. After a few long putts, Woods scooped up his ball with the back cavity of his putter and twirled it over his head, keeping the ball in the putter the entire time … He stopped short of Moonwalking off the first green.”
Before this practice round, many felt it would be a success if Woods could just find a way to make the cut and still be playing on the weekend.
Tiger has a different thought.
Tiger Woods tells the media at the turn that he feels like his game is in a place where he can win.
— Kelly Tilghman (@KellyTilghmanGC) April 6, 2015
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