Tiger Woods Masters

March 16, 2012 by staff 

Tiger Woods Masters, With clocks turned forward and days getting longer, thoughts of spring arrive with greater ease and comfort. Of course, most thoughts travel in one direction this time of year — through Augusta, Ga., because you can almost smell the azaleas.

We can only guess how Tiger Woods’ Masters preparation has changed in light of the Achilles injury that forced him out of the WGC-Cadillac Championship on Sunday. What we don’t know is how it colors the starting line, because many would have suggested that Woods, though without an official victory in some 27 months, is in the pole position, so to speak.

“I think Tiger’s the favorite,” Graeme McDowell offered.

When asked why, the 2010 U.S. Open champion pointed to Woods’ four victories and dozen top 10s at the Masters. “His record at Augusta isn’t bad, is it?”

No, it isn’t, not when you consider that he’s riding a streak of seven straight years at T-6 or better and while many will emphasize that Woods hasn’t won a green jacket since 2005, it’s ludicrous to suggest he doesn’t drive down Magnolia Lane with an abundance of confidence. Now, whether he’ll arrive healthy is a question only Woods can answer, though don’t hold your breath. He’ll keep that to himself.

McDowell did agree that his good friend from Northern Ireland, Rory McIlroy, “will have a fair bit of expectations going in (because) he’s probably expected to win the Masters.”

As he explained how McIlroy’s game suits the first major of the season, McDowell suggested that if his younger friend ever designed a course, “it would look an awful lot like Augusta,” and he rattled off holes such as nine and 10, only he caught himself.

“Forget 10,” McDowell said, and reporters laughed, for obvious reasons. It was a snap hook and several pinball shots off some Georgia pines that did in McIlroy at the par-4 10th, his triple bogey setting in motion a back-nine collapse. Yet all joking aside, McIlroy in just three trips to the Masters has proved himself to be a formidable challenger, so toss him in there with Woods and Phil Mickelson as leading favorites.

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