The 2012 Masters has the stage set for one of the greatest weekends in tournament history.
You have some of the biggest stars of the game lurking at the top of the leaderboard. You have a beloved veteran trying to become a two-time Masters champion at age 52. You even have a few unheralded players for the lovable underdog story that sells so well.
Everything CBS, Augusta National and the entire golf community could have wanted has come true. Well, with one teeny tiny exception.
Tiger Woods, the biggest star in golf and one of the most famous athletes on planet Earth, is eight strokes off the lead and looking up the leaderboard to see over 40 names above him.
This was not what people were expecting.
After all, Woods had finally broken his dry spell with an overwhelming victory at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. In fact, it looked like old times with everyone else faltering and Woods playing flawlessly. The putting that had done him in earlier in the year looked like a thing in the past as he worked his way around the course like a technician.
Surely, the Masters, a tournament where Woods played well even at his worst, would be the site of his return to glory with a green jacket.
In truth, it still could be. The glory in Augusta lies in the fact that tremendous rounds can be created. However, if Woods is going to pick up the victory, he did not do himself any favors with Friday's round.
The problems on Thursday were simple enough: all of his missed drives went left. Woods shot even par despite two unplayable lies, proving that his scrambling ability may be the best ever. Yet Friday was not a return to normalcy, but an even bigger falter. His drives and iron shots started spraying all over the place, resulting in five bogeys.
In two days, Tiger has hit 13 fairways and 19 greens. He is also one of six in sand saves. No matter how talented you are, that is not a recipe for success.
Woods has created an almost impossible standard of success. In the past four years, no one has achieved the consistency in majors as Tiger.
No one has had more top-10s, even though Woods missed a few with injuries. That is why he is a living legend, his "struggles" would be Hall of Fame caliber for other players.
Yet, competing is not enough for Woods, nor is it enough for the PGA. The sport is helped by Tiger Woods winning majors once more and bringing in the casual viewer.
On paper, this weekend is a dream. The young Rory McIlroy and the thrilling Phil Mickelson are playing well with other big names like Sergio Garcia, Fred Couples and other major champions near the top of the board.
The stage is set for a showstopper, but it is still missing its biggest star.
I guess you cannot always get what you want; golf hopes it gets what it needs.
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