Biggest Keys for Tiger Woods at the Players Championship in 2013

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Biggest Keys for Tiger Woods at the Players Championship in 2013
Harry How/Getty Images
It's been a long, long time since Tiger won his first and only Players Championship Trophy.

Tiger Woods has committed to playing in the 2013 Players Championship this May, but the No. 1 golfer in the world hasn't fared particularly well in this tournament in recent history.

Mark Soltau of TigerWoods.com reported Woods' commitment to this year's tournament:

Tiger Woods has committed to play in THE PLAYERS Championship at TPC Sawgrass (THE PLAYERS Course) in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., next week. Tiger won the event in 2001 and was runner-up in 2000.

Will Woods finally play well at TPC Sawgrass this year?

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Woods won this tournament back in 2001, but since that time, his best finish came in 2009 when he finished in eighth place after shooting five-under par. 

He has struggled to consistently play well at TPC Sawgrass—a difficult course that was designed to challenge golfers in a number of different ways. 

There are a few key things Woods must do in order to finally conquer Sawgrass once again and play well at this year's Players Championship. 

 

Keep the Ball In the Fairway

When Woods is hitting his tee shots into the fairway on a consistent basis, he usually ends up scoring well. Unfortunately, he doesn't always hit the mark off the tee and ends up fighting an uphill battle to make par. 

This season, Woods is hitting fairways off the tee just 55.7 percent of the time. On a demanding course like TPC Sawgrass that features narrow fairways and overhanging branches, he cannot afford to miss fairways just under half the time. 

Woods has found success, at times, by avoiding his driver altogether and utilizing his fairway woods and long irons in its stead. That would be a smart strategy for him to employ at the Players, as distance isn't as important as accuracy on this course.

From the championship tees, TPC Sawgrass measures 7,215 yards. It's not a particularly short course, but it's not particularly long, either. Woods has enough skill with his mid to long irons to overcome any lack of distance he may lose off the tee.

 

Distance Control From the Fairway

Solid iron play is absolutely critical at TPC Sawgrass.

When Woods struggles to score birdies, there's a good chance it's partly due to the fact that he is struggling with distance control with his irons. 

When Tiger is on target with his irons, he's brilliant. 

When his distance control isn't on point, he has to rely on his short game far too often and ends up saving par by making gritty eight- to 10-foot putts.

While his ability to grind is certainly admirable, grinding it out doesn't equal winning at the Players Championship. The winner has finished the tournament with an average score of 13.5-under par the past four years.

 

Adjusting To Conditions On the Greens

There are times when Woods' ability to judge putts and sink them consistently makes up for poor performances off the tee and into the green. 

Woods leads the PGA Tour in strokes gained by putting (1.476), and when he's sure of the speed of the greens, he's one of the deadliest putters in the game.

That said, far too often, Woods finds himself perplexed by the speed of the greens as conditions change out on the course. He'll go from brilliant to agonizingly average in the blink of an eye at times because he struggles to adjust to the changing conditions.

In order for Woods to finally win the Players Championship again at TPC Sawgrass, he must be able to roll with whatever mother nature sends his way.

 

Note: All stats courtesy of PGATour.com unless otherwise noted.

Follow me on Twitter @JesseReed78 

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