The Masters 2012: 7 Reasons Tiger Woods Will Win
Everyone has a pick for The Masters. Some like Rory McIlroy’s chances. Some think this is the year Luke Donald will force his will on Augusta National. A lot of fans and members of the media are focused on Phil Mickelson.
There are 10 or 12 others who could easily be in the mix, so much so that this has been described in advance as "the Best Masters Ever." However, when all is said and done, look for Tiger Woods to claw his way back to the green jacket ceremony. He’s not a lock, but he’s looking very good right now.
7. He Knows the Course
Augusta National is not a course for first timers, except for maybe Fuzzy Zoeller who won in his first appearance, Horton Smith who won the first tournament—somebody had to—and Gene Sarazen, who won in his first appearance, in 1935.
6. His Stinger Is Back
As his caddie Joe LaCava pointed out after Woods’ victory at Bay Hill, the stinger is back. He nodded when he said it. It was the nod that said, "Folks, he’s going to be tough to beat at Augusta."
It’s a hard shot to hit a stinger with a long club like a fairway wood or a long iron, but Woods now has the shot back in his arsenal.
5. His Putting Is Adequate
Whether it was nerves, lack of practice or what was going on in his mind, last year’s back nine on Sunday at Augusta National was enough to make you wonder if Tiger Woods could ever win another tournament, never mind The Masters.
By the Sunday of the Presidents Cup, Woods seemed to have the putter back under some kind of control. Yet he was winless in on the PGA Tour in 2012 until Bay Hill.
4. It’s a Horses for Courses Thing
There’s a reason Jack Nicklaus won six Masters, Arnold Palmer won four and Tiger Woods already has four green jackets (although technically, they may not have that many different jackets). Just like there’s a reason Arnold Palmer’s tournament was a likely place for Tiger Woods to have his comeback PGA Tour victory, which was his seventh victory at Bay Hill.
There is just something about certain courses that certain players like. Whether it’s Davis Love III winning five times at Harbour Town or Sam Seand winning nine times in Greensboro, although the PGA Tour only counts eight of them, the tournaments were played in the same place or in the case of Snead, the same two places. (Snead won at both of them.)
3. He’s Actually Smiling and Seems to Be Enjoying Himself
Call it women’s intuition, but since turning pro, Tiger Woods has never been Mr. Super Congeniality in the press room. He’s done what he’s had to do, talked when he was expected to talk—which is basically every time he shows up and that's hard to do—said as little as possible to give away what was happening at Team Tiger.
Now, he actually seems to enjoy being Tiger Woods for the first time ever. OK, so it was after a victory and who wouldn’t be happy then, but he’s already had 71 of them, and sometimes it seemed a little like the guy marking the days he has spent in prison with marks on the wall. It doesn’t seem like that any more. It seems like golf has become fun.
2. Nothing Against Anybody Else, but for Sure He Has a Great Caddie in Joe LaCav
With the hours a golfer spends with a caddie, it’s got to be a good match. Joe LaCava and Fred Couples spent more time than just at the course. He was Fred’s unofficial and often dinner companion.
Joe’s an easy guy to be around, an easy guy to talk to and that can only help Tiger Woods on and off the course. In addition, before there was Tiger, there was Fred, and Fred always created a buzz wherever he went. Joe is used to the hubbub. It doesn't faze him.
1. Tiger’s on a Mission
He hasn’t said it that way. He he knows it. We know it. He knows we know it. He knows he is going to be picked to death by armchair critics if he does not come out of Augusta National with a victory. And still he wants to play.
Few guys gone out purposely seeking pressure like Woods does. Perhaps no one since Greg Norman.