Question of the Day: Where will Tiger Woods finish at the Masters? [Updated]
Teddy Greenstein, Chicago Tribune
Last I checked, Tiger Woods is not a faucet. He can’t simply be turned on (pun intended) or off in a matter of seconds.
So given the length of his absence, the sense that his personal life remains a mess, the fact that Augusta National is one of the world’s most difficult courses, the reality that he has not won here since 2005 and the difficulty he has had during practice rounds (he has hit some nasty hooks), I don’t see Woods contending or finishing in the top 10. I’ll say he comes in 30th.
By predicting that, I risk a repeat of one of the all-time great Tribune headlines: TIGER WON’T TAME AUGUSTA. It ran in 1997. Woods won that year by a mere 12 shots.
[Updated, 12:36 p.m.:
Jeff Shain, Orlando Sentinel
I can easily see Tiger Woods leaving Augusta National with a top-10 finish, maybe even a top-five with a Sunday back-nine threat. But as even he’s discovered in recent years, too many pieces have to fall in place to win even without this year’s extras.
We’ve all seen what Woods can accomplish when he returns from physical injury. But no one – maybe not even Woods – knows what his mental and emotional state will be as he moves through four rounds.
He’s acknowledged that he plans to tone down his fits of pique when a shot goes astray – part of being more respectful of the game. But, he adds, it also means reining in his passion when things go well.
Woods also is coming off seven weeks of serious introspection, which could go either way. Jack Nicklaus had his best years when he struck the right balance between golf and family. David Duval went south.]
[Updated at 2:31 p.m.:
Mark Wogenrich, The Morning Call
In the strictest literal sense, Tiger Woods will finish Sunday’s round with an enormous exhale, relieved at having lasted 72 holes with the world’s hot breath on his neck. Whether he goes from 18 to the Butler Cabin or the players’ parking lot will depend on how he handled his new psyche.
It’s impossible to predict whether this less temperamental, more self-aware Woods can maintain his diamond-cutter edge on the course. All his talk about finding perspective provokes one to wonder: Will Woods also find perspective in a missed 10-footer for par? If he’s calm-blue-oceaning his way through life now, doesn’t that necessarily have to affect his golf? It’s going to take more than four rounds at Augusta National to figure that out.
Of course, Woods’ recent Masters history (top-six the last five years) suggests he can idle his way to a sizable check. So, let’s put him down for a T9, which will be a good start.]
[Updated, 5:19 p.m. Diane Pucin, Los Angeles Times
ESPN has a poll going. What would be more surprising, if Tiger Woods wins the Masters or misses the cut? With over 114,000 votes cast so far voters overwhelmingly said they’d be more surprised if he missed the cut.
This secretive man with the puffy face, the sad eyes, the grubby Fu Manchu mustache who hasn’t played competitive golf in five months and who, oh by the way, mentioned he’d had a torn Achilles as well as his knee surgery last year, seems an unlikely candidate to make the cut.
Understanding that the Masters is a different beast with a smaller field and more “ceremonial” guys, it is hard to imagine Woods having the physical ability to make the cut. He has the mental fortitude to put away outside distractions but unless he has been doing lots of secret practice (certainly possible) seeing Tiger play Saturday seems a stretch.]
Photo: Tiger Woods enjoys a moment during Wednesday's practice round. Credit: Matt Campbell / EPA