Photo: REUTERS/Joe Skipper
Tiger Woods! He’s back! Maybe!
He’s certainly winning again. He won this weekend by two strokes, but was much more dominant than that suggests. With a four shot lead he coasted on the last three holes, giving back two strokes to second place finisher Steve Stricker.
Now that he’s kinda maybe sorta probably back, everybody is thinking he will probably maybe most definitely win the Masters.
And they’re right to think Tiger will win. He’s won it four times before and no one else looks as prepared to win, other than maybe Phil Mickelson.
But there’s a catch. Tiger’s shot shape doesn’t fit Augusta any more.
When he was younger and dominating the Masters, he was hitting big draws, which means the ball was moving from right to left. Today his driver is a fade which means it’s moving from left to right.
Augusta National was built by Bobby Jones and Alister MacKenzie. Jones hit a draw, so he designed the course to favour his draw. (It was originally built to be a private course for rich New Yorkers who wanted a place to play in the Winter. It wasn’t built to host the Masters.)
With Tiger’s shot fading to the right, it’s going to be a lot harder to take advantage of the course’s doglegs to the left.
In particular, the second and thirteenth holes are par fives that dog left. In the old days Tiger bombed a drawing drive and then took a wedge or short iron into the green.
They’ve since lengthened the holes to prevent him from using short irons. Couple the extra yardage with his new shot shape, and when he bombs the driver he’s going to be out of position.
He also tends to over cook his driver, hitting fades that fly too far right. Last weekend he got a ball stuck in a tree because it was so far right.
If he fades his driver too much on the par fives then he’s going to struggle to get on the green in two. Tiger was able to dominate early in his career because he killed the par fives. If he can’t kill the par fives because of a faded driver it’s going to be a problem.
All that said, if he can putt as well as he did this weekend, and his short irons are as dialed in as they were this weekend, he’s going to have a real good chance to break his majors drought.
Just don’t go acting like it’s a done deal because he won two events already.
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