Tiger Woods' Putting Is Key to 5th Masters Title

Joseph ZuckerFeatured ColumnistApril 6, 2013

ORLANDO, FL - MARCH 24:  Tiger Woods looks over a shot on the 2nd hole during the final round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard at the Bay Hill Club and Lodge on March 24, 2013 in Orlando, Florida.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

It's all about the color green for Tiger Woods.

In order to win his fifth green jacket at Augusta, he'll have to continue his strong play on the green.

Prior to his most recent resurgence, Woods just couldn't get it all going on the golf course. His driving accuracy and short game would be strong, but his putting would let him down. Then if his putting was strong, the rest would falter. Now, he's really putting it all together.

While it's likely that his marital problems helped lead to his decline, having the knee problems were the biggest reason for his major drop in form. Now that Woods is in a relationship with Lindsey Vonn, people are saying he's happier again and whatever else.

While that may be positively affecting his play, it's unfair to give that too much credit, because nobody but Woods truly knows what that's doing for him. Winning three out of five tournaments is bound to make anybody happier.

It's clear that something is different with him.

Quite a few times now, a return to form has been called for Woods. Most of those have just been false dawns where he's strung together a couple of good results but failed to maintain the momentum.

This time truly does feel different. You see him on the course now, and he looks miles better than where he was last year or in 2011.

That's due in large part to his putting. What was once his biggest weakness over the last few years has again become one of his biggest strengths. Through his five PGA tournaments, Woods is leading in total putting and second to Kevin Na in putting average.

Woods' approach play and driving accuracy haven't been great. He's only hitting 67.0 percent of his greens in regulation, and 55.8 percent of his drives are landing on the fairway. Those are quite startling numbers when you consider how much better Woods is playing.

The biggest factor at the 2013 Masters will be Woods' putting. While he'll need to strike the ball better, none of that would matter if he's two-putting what are easy opportunities and then failing to set himself up well on the longer putts.

Just as putting can undo all of a golfer's work in the buildup, it can also cure whatever accuracy woes from which he or she is suffering.

The thing is, his drives and subsequent approaches aren't totally dooming him into a poor shot total on the whole. He'll obviously want that to improve when he reaches Augusta, but there's something to be said for the fact that he has been winning despite striking the ball poorly.