It's been five years since Tiger Woods' victory at the 2008 U.S. Open brought his major count to 14. We're also now seven years removed from Woods' last win at the British Open. Still, that doesn't mean that he shouldn't be considered the favorite heading into the 2013 Open Championship at Muirfield.
There are factors working against him, such as the nagging elbow injury that forced him to skip his own tournament in Potomac, Md., earlier this month, as well as his rather unspectacular past performances at this very course.
In fact, Woods endured through one of the worst rounds of his career at Muirfield, when he shot an 81 during Round 3 of the 2002 British Open.
However, like Woods did the day after that dreadful round, he will bounce back in 2013.
Until the elbow injury, Woods was finally looking like the golfer that dominated the PGA Tour for more than a decade. The 37-year-old enjoyed one of the most impressive starts to a season of his career, and bagged four tournament victories by May.
If the elbow is no longer a problem, why shouldn't this be the tournament that Tiger finally gets to No. 15?
According to ESPN's Bob Harig, Woods is feeling much better about the condition of his elbow heading into the tournament.
"I took a couple of weeks off and that's why I didn't play and I started practicing last week,'' Woods told two reporters while playing the outward nine at Muirfield with Jason Day and Dustin Johnson. "It felt fine. That's one of the reasons I let it heal, so I could go right back at it.''
Woods, who tied for 32nd at the U.S. Open, said he had to resist the urge to return too early.
If Woods is rested and healthy, one has to assume that he'll be in the hunt come Sunday. And though he may not have captured that elusive 15th major, Tiger has come up in the clutch on grand stages, as he claimed victory at the Players Championship.
Until he does win another major, though, the questions surrounding his nerves in pressure-packed situations will continue.
But that will all end on Sunday at Muirfield.
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