Should Tiger Woods be the favorite to win the 2013 British Open?
Woods reclaimed the No. 1 spot atop the World Golf Rankings this year with an incredible start to the 2013 season, winning four tournaments in his first six stroke-play events and finishing in fourth place at the 2013 Masters.
Tiger started to look like Tiger once again, and it seemed but a formality that he'd finally break his five-year major championship drought.
Unfortunately for Woods, he injured his elbow at some point during his victory in the Players Championship, as noted by Rex Hoggard of the Golf Channel, and then he tweaked it badly again during the U.S. Open at Merion:
By the end of the U.S. Open, Woods had suffered through his worst career showing in a major championship, as noted by ESPN's SportsCenter:
Tiger Woods finishes +13 (4-over 74 today), the worst finish in a major championship in his professional career.— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) June 16, 2013
Woods was clearly bothered by his elbow throughout the tournament, often grimacing in pain after his swings—even when he wasn't hitting balls out of the brutal rough.
After his poor showing at the U.S. Open, Woods then withdrew from the AT&T National, where he was slated to defend his title, due to his elbow injury. As reported by his official website, Woods spoke about the injury, saying:
I was examined after I returned home from the U.S. Open, and the doctors determined I have a left elbow strain. I have been advised to take a few weeks off, rest and undergo treatment. I'll be ready to go for the British Open, and I'm looking forward to playing at Muirfield.
Woods has won a major championship while battling through injury before, as we saw in his thrilling victory over Rocco Mediate in the 2008 U.S. Open.
That said, a lot has changed in the five-plus years since.
The level of competition has continued to get stronger since Woods' last major victory, and he has yet to play at his best on the big stage since returning to action a few years ago.
Another reason to doubt Woods at the 2013 British Open is the fact that Muirfield is the site of Woods' grandest single-round major championship failure. He suffered his worst single-round score in a major back in 2002 when The Open Championship was last hosted at Muirfield, shooting a 10-over 81 in the third round.
It would be foolish to dismiss Woods' chances of winning the 2013 British Open. He is who he is, and there's always a chance he will rise up and perform like a demigod once again.
But by no means should Woods be considered the favorite to win, as there is too much going against him heading into this tournament.
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