Tiger Woods' winning ways will come to an end at Augusta National this April, but if history has taught us anything, it's that Tiger is set for yet another top-10 finish at the Masters in 2013.
Woods is coming off two impressive wins at the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill and the WGC-Cadillac Championship at Doral, winning by two strokes at each event. Unfortunately, Tiger is less than a year removed from one of the worst major performances of his career, finishing tied for 40th at last year's Masters.
It's certainly not impossible for the 37-year-old to go from 40th to first in one year, but it's unlikely to say the least.
A top-10 or even a top-five finish is more realistic. After all, prior to the 2012 Masters, Woods had earned seven consecutive top-10 finishes at Augusta, including six top-five finishes and a victory in 2005.
Plus, Tiger was in the exact same position he is in now a year ago, getting set for the season's first major event while coming off a win at Bay Hill; he won the 2012 Arnold Palmer Invitational by five strokes. But Bay Hill and Doral don't begin to contend with Augusta National when it comes to the pressure Woods faces.
Even casual sports fans tune into the Masters every spring, and for the past seven years, even they know that Tiger hasn't delivered.
It's been nearly a decade since his last championship moment at Augusta, and while he is sure to be among the top contenders through the opening rounds and into the weekend, there must be serious doubts about his ability to close the deal.
As already mentioned, Woods has finished tied for second, third or fourth in five of the past seven Masters tournaments.
Close, but no cigar.
Tiger has come up short too many times for us to consider him the man to beat this April. He may be the hottest golfer on the planet and a 14-time major champion, but it's been five years since his last major win and more than seven years since his last title at Augusta.
Of his 18 career Masters tournaments, Woods has won four, missed the cut just once and finished in the top 10 on eight other occasions.
Tiger's recent play at Augusta National reflects what he is at this point in his career—a phenomenal player who's struggling to rediscover the killer instinct that made him great.
Look for Tiger to contend at the 2013 Masters, knocking at the door through the opening rounds. In the end, though, expect Woods to fade just as he has since 2006, earning yet another top-10 finish that leaves us begging the same question: When will Tiger win another major?
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