To say Tiger Woods has rebounded from a tumultuous couple of years would be an understatement.
He had a combined four top-10 finishes (no wins) in 2010 and 2011, but he posted nine top-10 finishes and three wins in 2012 and already has three wins in four stroke-play PGA Tour events this year.
Make no mistake about it—Woods is the undeniable favorite at the upcoming 2013 Masters.
There was a time when there were doubts that the four-time Masters champion would ever don the green jacket again. A report by the National Enquirer in November 2009 (via Reuters) that Woods had an extramarital affair started a snowball that would turn into an avalanche, affecting his life on and off the golf course. It wasn't until 2012 that he began to rebound.
Now, the 37-year-old is back with a vengeance. He notched consecutive victories at the WGC-Cadillac Championship and the Arnold Palmer Invitational after opening up his 2013 campaign with a win at the Farmers Insurance Open. He ranks first on tour in scoring average, first in putting (strokes gained), first in holes per eagle, third in birdie average and 26th in driving distance, via PGATour.com. He also ranks 57th in sand-save percentage, his best mark since 2009.
Woods' putting is a big part of his success this year. He's averaged an astounding 1.476 strokes gained via putting in 2013. According to The Guardian, Woods has knocked down 16 of his 37 putt attempts from 10 to 15 feet this year.
To put it into perspective, Brandt Snedeker led the tour with an average of 0.860 strokes gained via putting last year. The last golfer to finish a season averaging over 1.0 strokes gained via putting was Ben Crane in 2006.
Tiger hasn't won a major since 2008, and he hasn't won the Masters since 2005, but he's playing at an extremely high level right now. His putting—not to mention his overall game—should benefit him greatly at Augusta.
It's also worth noting that Woods has notched six top-10 finishes in his last seven Masters appearances since the win in 2005. Even in his forgettable 2010 and 2011 campaigns, he tied for fourth place at the historic tournament. Now that he's on top of his game, it's only logical to expect him to have a great shot at capturing his fifth career green jacket.
Tiger Woods is back. He may never be vintage Tiger again, but the No. 1 golfer in the world strikes fear into the hearts of his opponents once again. That bodes well for him on the grandest stage in golf.
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