Tiger Woods' recent resurgence has put him atop the world rankings once again, but he will not be able to convert the momentum into a fifth green jacket at the 2013 Masters.
Two consecutive PGA Tour titles are certainly an encouraging sign for the living legend, as is the extraordinary putting that has been the driving force behind his back-to-back triumphs.
Time and time again, though, the major championships have proven to be an entirely different animal.
Woods won three tour events in 2012—more than any other golfer. He has already matched that total but has had a particularly difficult time closing the deal at Augusta National over the past several years—even before his fall from grace.
It has been roughly eight years since Woods last donned the green jacket. With the exception of last year's tie for 40th, Woods has been remarkably consistent—never finishing outside of the top six on all other occasions.
As impressive as that's been, the vintage Woods always found a way to close the deal.
No one needs to be reminded to take whatever ESPN First Take analyst Skip Bayless says with a proverbial grain of salt.
Having said that, Bayless brings up an extremely good point in reference to comments made by Notah Begay III, Woods' college teammate at Stanford. Begay hints that Woods is feeling confident enough to shoot even higher than Jack Nicklaus' 18 majors in light of his return to form.
Skip Bayless @RealSkipBayless
Tiger's college buddy Notah says Tiger's now focused on winning 20 MAJORS?! How about just winning the Masters for 1st time in EIGHT YEARS.2013-4-4 19:28:42
Woods has not won a major since the 2008 U.S. Open, and that won't be changing in roughly two weeks' time. He should simply focus on winning one first before setting his sights beyond the all-time major championship record.
Here is the most important factor to distinguish from years past: Woods is no longer the unstoppable force of nature he used to be on the course.
Yes, he has been dominant in his past two wire-to-wire triumphs, but the mystique is gone.
Players respect how well Woods can play the game but are no longer intimidated by his dominance. Plus, a player like Rory McIlroy has proven that he can rise to the occasion and dominate on golf's biggest stages even with Woods in contention on the weekend.
Woods had some serious weekend blues at the majors last season, skidding down the stretch especially at the final three.
The Masters is the major that Woods has experienced the longest winning drought. Until he proves himself elsewhere, it is unlikely he will be able to have his next major breakthrough at the site of so many close calls over the past seven years.
The astounding putting showcase he has demonstrated in his two wins may not be able to be maintained on the incredibly fast surfaces at Augusta. Combine that with the general major's pressure, and, as mentioned earlier, it's an entirely different game.
Woods' form has relied so heavily on the flatstick. He ranks 145th in driving accuracy and just 81st in greens in regulation percentage, per PGATOUR.com. That is bound to catch with to him under the gun of Masters' pressure and ultimately prevent him from grabbing major No. 15.