From the Rough

Golf without discretion

Here we go again: Tiger Woods in contention at the Masters

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Stop me if you’ve heard this line before, but Tiger Woods is in contention at the Masters. Yes, that Tiger Woods; the same one who returned to the game of golf last year at this very tournament after a hiatus away from the game. While last 2010 was all about Woods finally being back, this this year’s tournament has been all about Woods trying to find his way back.

One year after Hydrant-gate and we still don’t have a lot of answers about where Tiger’s game is at the moment. But on Friday, under another day of perfect conditions at Augusta National, Woods gave us another glimpse of the game we all used to remember. After starting with a mix of birdies and bogeys, Woods found another gear starting on the 8th hole, as he birdied seven of the next eleven holes to get in the clubhouse at 7-under for the tournament, just three shots back of leader Rory McIlroy.

Woods was on, rolling in birdie putts and hitting picture-perfect iron shots. He capped things off with a birdie putt on the 18th hole, something that Woods hadn’t done in some time. The funny thing about the round was that we’ve seen this sort of performance recently, when Woods blistered Pebble Beach during the third round of last year’s U.S. Open to get in contention.

But instead of capitalizing on the moment, he gave it all away, falling out of the race on Sunday in a round that was, for all intents and purposes, a major letdown. That’s why it’s hard to figure out what were going to see on Saturday. If you’ll recall, Woods’ biggest problem has been putting four rounds together. He hasn’t been able to do it since he returned.

So what should we expect on Saturday? Honestly, I’m just not sure. But I can tell you this: I saw something in Woods I hadn’t seen in a long time, and that was a golfer swinging with confidence. If you’ve been watching Woods’ new swing progression, then you know he’s been fighting things, always looking a little uncomfortable with his posture and position.

That wasn’t the case on Friday. Woods was ripping through the ball with confidence, and looked good doing it, I might add. That’s why even if you aren’t fully sold on Woods staying in contention, you at least have to like his chances going forward for the rest of the season. The swing finally looks good, and Woods doesn’t appear to be over thinking things.

If he can go out there and worry about firing sticks, as opposed to analyzing his swing, there’s a good chance we may see Woods right there on Sunday with a chance to capture his fifth green jacket. On the 25th anniversary of one the greatest Masters ever, it only seems fitting that the game’s best player could give us a new memory that could be remembered for a long time.

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Written by Jonathan Wall

04/08/2011 at 11:17 pm

Posted in Tiger Woods

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