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Improvements Tiger Woods Must Make to Contend at the Open Championship
Eileen Blass-USA TODAY

Tiger Woods needs to go back to the drawing board after posting a disappointing final score of 13 over par at the 2013 U.S. Open. According to ESPN's Justin Ray, it was Woods' worst score to par for his entire career in a U.S. Open:

Needless to say, the No. 1 player in the world has his work cut out for him in order to bounce back at The Open Championship in mid-July. In between now and then, Woods is scheduled to defend his title at the AT&T National in the final weekend of June at Congressional Country Club. 

Tiger Woods will ____ at The Open Championship.

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The Open Championship this year is being held at Muirfield—the site of Woods' worst career individual-round score. He posted an 81 in 2002, shooting 10 over par in wicked conditions as the course was pounded by a squall. 

He's been brilliant for most of the year, posting four wins and a top-four finish at the Masters. Unfortunately, Woods' game has spiralled downward in his past two outings, as he finished in a tie for 65th place at the Memorial and then finished in a tie for 32nd at the U.S. Open.

Taking a look at what has plagued Woods these past two tournaments, it's clear what he must do to improve his game going forward.

 

You Can't Score if You Don't Hit the Greens

Drew Hallowell/Getty Images

Woods got into some trouble off the tee at Merion at the U.S. Open, but for the most part he was fairly accurate, hitting 70 percent of fairways in regulation. There's certainly room for improvement in this department for Tiger, but it's not a huge concern.

The big issue for Woods the past couple of tournaments has been his failure to hit greens in regulation. He only managed to hit 61.19 percent of GIR at the Memorial Tournament and 65 percent of GIR at the U.S. Open. 

Oftentimes, even when hitting greens in regulation, Woods' approach shots have been off the mark, leaving him with long putts that require a deft touch just to get it into tap-in range for par. 

Woods must work hard to dial in his iron play. He must improve distance control and get back into a groove with his trajectory and spin.

 

Recovery Shots Aren't Supposed to Make the Problem Worse

Eileen Blass-USA TODAY

At one point in his career, Woods was one of the world's best short-game specialists. He was an escape artist who could make difficult situations look easy.

Of late, however, Woods has struggled to recover after hitting bad shots into the green—especially from greenside bunkers.

At the Memorial Tournament, Woods only managed to convert 25 percent of his sand saves, and he struck out completely at the U.S. Open, failing to convert both of his attempts.

What is the most alarming aspect of Woods' recent struggles?

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Furthermore, on the season, Woods ranks No. 114 on the PGA Tour in scrambling from less than 30 yards, converting on just 26.67 percent of his chances—eight out of 30 total attempts.

Failing to hit greens is bad enough, but Woods has lately compounded his mistakes by failing to get the ball close on his recovery shots.

 

Drive for Show, Putt for Dough

One of the world's best putters, Woods has been downright average with the flatstick of late.

For the season, Woods ranks No. 2 in total putting and No. 5 in the "strokes gained putting" stat.

Rob Carr/Getty Images

He's been way off his seasonal average in the past couple of tournaments, however, needing over 1.7 putts per GIR at the Memorial Tournament and nearly 1.8 putts per GIR at the U.S. Open. 

Woods has struggled to correctly gauge the speed of greens the past two tournaments, which has caused him to miss some putts badly. He can't continue to putt poorly and hope to win. 

 

Note: Stats courtesy of PGATour.com and USOpen.com

Follow me on Twitter @JesseReed78

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