Tiger Woods: Why Winning the Masters Just Became More Difficult

Michael FitzpatrickFeatured ColumnistApril 22, 2013

AUGUSTA, GA - APRIL 14:  Tiger Woods of the United States hits a shot on the fourth hole during the final round of the 2013 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 14, 2013 in Augusta, Georgia.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Needless to say, Tiger Woods’ eight on the par-four 15th hole during his second round at Augusta National—which included a controversial two-stroke penalty for taking an illegal drop—did little to help his chances at the 2013 Masters.

Woods would finish four strokes out of the playoff between Angel Cabrera and eventual winner Adam Scott, so, if you swapped in a four instead of the eight Woods made on the 15th hole in round two, Woods would have been right there with an excellent chance to win on Sunday afternoon.

Woods' putting also let him down on Sunday.

Woods would later tell reporters that he had a difficult time adjusting to the slower green speeds on Sunday, although Woods’ putting woes on the weekends at majors have now become a fairly ordinary occurrence rather than a single anomaly due to slower green speeds.

In addition to the penalty on 15 and a balky putter on Sunday, Woods spent much of the week battling a new fault in his game that has and will continue to make winning the Masters an extremely difficult task.

Plain and simple, Woods appears to be unable to draw his golf ball at this time.

During Woods' hey day at Augusta National, he would effortlessly whip 300 yard draws around the corners at holes like two, nine, 10 and 13.

Woods' high draw into the par-three 16th on Sunday had become a Masters tradition as familiar as the green jacket itself.

If you could have gone out and robotically created the perfect golfer for Augusta National, it would have been Woods between 1997 and 2009.

Woods was able to read Augusta National’s severely undulating greens like the back of his hand and had a short game that was second to none. But perhaps Woods biggest advantage around Augusta National came from his ability to seamlessly work the ball in both directions, which made winning at Augusta National exponentially easier than trying to tame this beast of a course while possessing only a draw or a fade.

But in 2013 there was something vastly different about the way in which Woods approached Augusta National. Not only did Woods hit very few, if any, solid draws all week, but he didn’t even attempt to hit a draw for most of the week.

Woods’ lines off of the tee during the 2013 Masters just screamed of a player who either couldn’t or had little confidence in his ability to draw the golf ball.

On the dog-leg left par-five 13th, Woods had to begin his ball out over the trees left of Rae’s Creek and still managed to wind up in the right rough on several occasions, including on Sunday afternoon when he was in desperate need of an eagle on the hole.

On the ninth hole, Woods also began his drives out over the top of the trees that lined the left side of the dog-leg left par-four.

And on the 10th hole, Woods was forced to take a very dangerous line along the tall Georgia Pines that line the left side of the fairway in order to leave enough room for his fade.

In fact, the only memorable draw Woods hit all week was on the par-three 16th on Sunday, and that required an extreme hook swing from Woods just to produce even a hint of a draw into the left hole location.

For more than a decade, Woods' ability to hit his golf ball in both directions was a marked advantage at this winding, tree-lined golf course.

But that is no longer the case.

For the first time in his career, Woods seems to be playing Augusta National with only one ball flight—a fade.

Woods may still be able to slip into several more green jackets after all is said and done—after all, Jack Nicklaus fared pretty well around Augusta National while hitting a fade. But, winning at the Masters becomes just a little more difficult for players that are unable to draw the golf ball, and at 37 years old and needing five more major championship wins to surpass Nicklaus’ record of 18, the last thing Woods wants is any further difficulties added to what is already a monumental task.

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