Golf world waits on Woods
03 Apr 2011 - 18:30:14
A year ago it was all about what state of mind Tiger Woods was in and how the rest of the world would treat him.
Now it is all about what state his game is in entering another Masters and whether the rest of the field are in awe of him any more.
"It's feeling very, very good. It's getting better every week I've played and I just need to keep progressing. I felt I was able to control just about every shot," said the former world number one at the Arnold Palmer Invitational last Sunday just after taking two in a bunker on the 17th and then going in the water on the 18th.
Even if he had parred them rather than dropping three shots Woods would have finished eighth - on a course where he has won six times.
"There were quite a few positives this week. I hit the ball pure and that's the thing."
That was in Dubai seven weeks ago. Joint fourth with a round to go he had just taken 75 and dropped to 20th - on a course where he had finished first, third, first on his three previous trips.
The mantra has been the same for a while, but Woods has been clutching at some pretty short straws. He has gone 16 months and 20 events without winning - the longest barren spell of his career.
Many still think Augusta, the scene of four of his 14 major wins, could be the place where he hits the heights again. But he has now played four lay-outs this year - Torrey Pines, the Emirates, Doral and Bay Hill - where he has combined for 18 victories in the past and he has not even got close.
The facts are these. Just five of his 16 rounds have been sub-70 so far this season and he ranks 187th in driving accuracy on the PGA Tour, 105th in putting, 61st in driving distance and 54th in hitting greens. There was also the Accenture Match Play. He was knocked out in the first round by Thomas Bjorn there - with a double bogey on the first extra hole.
Majors are different, though, and it was surely no coincidence that Woods's best two performances in the meat of last year were his fourth places at The Masters and US Open.