Tiger Woods Needs Strong Start to Conquer Issues at TPC Sawgrass

Brian MaziqueCorrespondent IIIMay 8, 2013

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FL - MAY 08:  Tiger Woods of the USA hits a tee shot during a practice round for THE PLAYERS Championship at THE PLAYERS Stadium course at TPC Sawgrass on May 8, 2013 in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

Though Tiger Woods is still a great player, his game has changed mentally and physically. He's no longer the guy who can chase down the leaders on the final day.

Woods' struggles at TPC Sawgrass are well documented. To make the 2013 Players Championships a different experience, he needs to get off to a fast start.

Per Brian Wacker of PGATour.com, Woods said:

It’s one of those courses where they’ve got some tough lines and if you’re not playing well, you’re going to get exposed.

You have to drive the ball really well and then on top of that now that it’s gone to Bermuda these greens have gotten a lot more fiery. You miss these greens at all, you’ve got some of the weirdest, funky little shots that you’ll ever face.

Many players have struggled on this course, but Tiger is Tiger, so of course his struggles will be magnified. Here is Tiger's history at TPC Sawgrass per Carlos Torres of EDraft.com.

1997 T-31st (+1) 289 (71, 73, 72, 73)
1998 T-35th (+2) 290 (72, 73, 73, 72)
1999 T-10th (+3) 291 (70, 71, 75, 75)
2000 2nd (-9) 279 (71, 71, 66, 71)
2001 WIN (-14) 274 (72, 69, 66, 67)
2002 T-14th (-1) 287 (71, 72, 70, 74)
2003 T-11th (-6) 282 (72, 70, 68, 72)
2004 T-16th (-3) 285 (75, 69, 68, 73)
2005 T-53rd (+5) 293 (70, 73, 75, 75)
2006 T-22nd (+1) 289 (72, 69, 73, 75)
2007 T-37th EVEN 288 (75, 73, 73, 67)
2008 DNP    
2009 8th (-5) 283 (71, 69, 70, 73)
2010 W/D (-4) 238 (70, 71, 71, 26)
2011 W/D    
2012 T-40th (-1) 287 (74, 68, 72, 73)


The fact is, if Woods is playing well, he can conquer any course. He's proven so far this season that he's still the best player in the world. He currently holds the No. 1 world ranking, he's tops in the FedExCup standings, and he's captured three wins through the first four months of the year.

Oddly enough, the only time Tiger has won on this course, the first round was his worst of the tournament. In 2001, Tiger fired an even-par 72, which obviously didn't bury him, but was still inferior to the 69, 66 and 67 he produced on the days to follow.

That was Tiger then; the 2013 version of Woods has to succeed with a different mental approach.

The 25-year-old Woods carried an aura of invincibility, he hadn't endured any major injuries and he hadn't had personal turmoil in his life.

In this stage of his career, a quick start on a course that has given him issues is the best way to exorcise his demons. In 2012, Tiger began the tournament with a two-over 74. He finished the tournament tied for 40th place at one under.

In fact, he hasn't shot higher than a 70 in the first round of any of the last five tournaments he's won.

If Tiger has a strong first day, the rest of the field is in trouble. If not, television coverage will lead fans on the requisite Tiger tracking, but he won't be a serious contender.


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