Why Tiger Woods Has a Great Shot at 3 Majors in 2014

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Why Tiger Woods Has a Great Shot at 3 Majors in 2014
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
Woods lines up a putt at the Northwestern Mutual World Challenge.

It's been a while since Tiger Woods won a major championship—five years and counting. Woods probably knows it down to the day. Certainly, no one is looking forward to breaking that non-major streak more than him.

In 2014, he has a great shot at capturing at least one major, if not more, and here's why: There are horses for courses. We all know that saying, and nobody proves it more than Tiger Woods.

Woods has won eight times at Bay Hill in Arnold Palmer's tournament. That's more than a career for some golfers. He's also won eight times at Firestone CC, site of the WGC-Bridgestone. He has seven victories at Torrey Pines in a PGA Tour event, and eight if you count the U.S. Open. He's won five times at the Memorial.

This year, Woods faces three of four majors at courses where he's already been a winner in a major. So he has good feelings about those venues before he tees it up. It's sure to provide an extra boost of confidence that he hopes will translate into victory.

As we all know, Tiger Woods won the Masters four times at Augusta National, the season's first major. And as he recently pointed out, he had a shot in 2013.

"At The Masters, I certainly had a chance because I was right there," Woods said last week.

While Woods may not win the Masters in 2014, it's hard to pick anyone who is more favored other than Phil Mickelson.

Who will win at  Pinehurst No. 2, the site of the 2014 U.S. Open, is anybody's guess. However, Woods likes his chances there also.

"I'm trending in the right way," he said about the storied course. "I've finished third, second. You get the picture, right?"

There will be no rough, though, so golf balls will not stop rolling easily. Woods has never been Fred Funk-like accurate in his driving, so it will be interesting to see if he can keep his tee balls on the playing surface or ends up in the pine trees.

Because of the no-rough policy, Pinehurst No. 2 will place more of a premium on accuracy than in the past. Dangerously enough, at Pinehurst No. 2, nearly all the holes are framed by pine trees, and "he's in jail" could be one of the most often-used terms by commentators and reporters that week to describe ball position for any player, not just Woods.

So, if there's one major where Woods is not favored in 2014, it's the U.S. Open.

Moving on to the third leg of major season, Woods won the last time the British Open was played at Royal Liverpool, often called Hoylake for the town where the course is located. That was where he ironed his way around the course, demonstrating perhaps the most conservative golf we have ever seen Woods play.

It was also the year he demoralized the all-in-yellow Sergio Garcia in the final round. Garcia is not the first person to have that happen to him, although he is probably the first person to wear top to bottom yellow since Doug Sanders.

No matter what modifications are made to Royal Liverpool, they are not making any more land around that golf course, and so extending it is more or less out of the question unless you know golfers who can walk on water. They are up against the sea on one side, and the rest of the property abuts homes in Hoylake and West Kirby, the two towns on either side of the course. Nevertheless, the R&A got 7,350 yards out of it somehow.

What the R&A did do was to create "broken ground" in the rough to make for tougher escape shots on five holes. Exactly what broken ground is, we will have to determine. If it's anything like hitting out of a plowed field, those who find it are in deep trouble.

There are new swales around five of the greens, which should annoy golfers to no end. On the positive side, 13 bunkers have been removed since the 2006 British Open. The course now has 82 instead of 95. So it's the same course, minus the bunkers, plus the swales and plowed earth.

Finally, the year's fourth major is at Valhalla GC in Louisville, Ky., where Woods won his second of four PGA Championship titles in a playoff with Bob May. That was back in 2000, the year of the Tiger Slam. Talk about good memories.

So, three of the four majors in 2014 are at venues where Tiger Woods has been more than successful. He's been victorious. That fact alone drastically improves his chances for getting at least the 15th major in 2014, if not more.

 

Kathy Bissell is a Golf Writer for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained firsthand or from official interview materials from the USGA, PGA Tour or PGA of America.

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