Tiger Woods had viewers on the edge of their seats as he made a late rally at the Masters. Photo by Jeff Lewis
Back at the friendly confines of Augusta, Woods ties for the lead Sunday before placing fourth.
By Michael Brown,
Sentinel sports writer
Well, for a while at least, it was fun to welcome Tiger Woods back into the fold during the Masters Tournament.
Back at the scene of his captivating first major championship win in 1997, Woods was in familiar territory indeed, tied atop the leader board on a Sunday.
For a while at least, that monstrous drive re-emerged as Woods swatted the ball with force and direction. In certain instances, his putter worked as an ally, instead of an enemy as it has the past three years.
Despite Woods’ fortunes however, something was different. Other players seemed to meet his challenge. During years past, other pro golfers would shrivel on Sundays when Woods made his charge.
Woods’ aura of invincibility has so disappeared to the point that a no-name stepped up and won the coveted green jacket.
Chad Schwartzel rallied for the win the way Woods used to by making all of the right shots when it mattered. Woods settled for a three-way tie at fourth, finishing 10-under 278.
By Woods’ former standards, a fourth place finish would be a disappointment, but since that fateful November night in 2009, things have changed.
There’s no need to rehash Woods’ off the course problems, but it’s fair to say that the once swagger soaked record-setting golfer to be hasn’t played up to his ability.
But we got a glimpse of his former prowess when he displayed his lowest score on a Sunday at The Masters, 67, only derailed by uneven play on the back nine.
For once, the man who hasn’t won a major in nearly three years almost reverted back to form.
But that was short-lived.
When Woods began to make his charge up the board Friday it was cause for excitement as throngs of people in his gallery followed and cheered him on.
Despite the exceptional play, Woods showed he wasn’t all the way back. Every time he tugged, his short game seemingly would pull him back into the depths of being a normal player.
That was exhibited when on Friday he missed a putt on 12–and Saturday during a missed chippie at 15–and Sunday when he pushed two putts inside four-feet away from the cup.
When the cheering and clapping subsided Sunday, Woods didn’t garner the win, but the rest of the PGA tour should consider itself on notice.
Woods looked the best overall he’s looked in a few years. Obviously, he’s still dealing with mental blocks following the separation from his wife.
But if Woods can muster the mental mettle that became a hallmark of his game and improve his putter, The Masters may prove to be the springboard that propels him back into contention.
Woods still has 14 major titles under his belt, four behind Jack Nicklaus’ record.
And coincidentally, the next major championship on the schedule is the last one Woods won, the U.S. Open.
Woods won the Open in 2008 and will probably be a favorite to grab the prize this year in Maryland.
If that happens, then we’ll be surely able to welcome back Tiger, and for an entire tournament.
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