Tiger Woods believes his game is in good enough shape to win the Masters – and end a seven-year wait for his 15th Major title.
Woods – whose 14th Major was the US Open in 2008 – strolled up to his second shot at the short par-four third hole and routinely hit a 35-yard pitch shot at the pin that finished about eight feet from the cup to cheers at Augusta National.
It was only a practice round with old friend Mark O’Meara on the Monday of Masters week, but it gave hope that the four-time winner of the green jacket might still be capable of Major championship magic.
Routine for the Woods of old, but full of drama for those who have cringed at the startling loss of short-game control that sent the former world number one into a self-imposed exile since he withdrew after 11 holes at Torrey Pines on February 5.
“I’m on the better side of it now,” Woods told reporters when asked how he had fared with his chipping during his 11 holes of practice on Monday.
“I felt like I had to get my game into a spot where I could compete to win a golf tournament. “And it’s finally there.”
Woods only announced last week that he would compete in his first Masters since 2013 after missing last year while recovering from back surgery.
The pressure is on him after a two-month absence from the PGA Tour that followed an abysmal stretch in which his best finish in six official events was 69th at the British Open, dropping his ranking to 111th.
But Woods, of course, is no stranger to pressure and if the touch has returned to his short game, he could burst back to prominence at the year’s first major starting on Thursday.