It is no secret that Tiger Woods has been struggling with his game.
In case you have not heard, Tiger has not won a tournament in over a year. In fact in four starts in 2011, Tiger has only notched one top-10 finish.
That is not the Tiger the world is accustomed too.
The Tiger the world is accustomed to would have notched a victory at the Farmers Insurance Open played at Torrey Pines, a course he has virtually owned during his career. Instead, Tiger finished in a tie for 44th this year.
Now Tiger heads to Augusta.
In the past, Tiger was always the favorite to win at the hallowed track. But this is 2011. This is not the same Tiger that walked the fairways back in 2005.
As the saying goes, the Masters does not begin until the back nine on Sunday afternoon. Too bad Tiger will be watching from his house.
Tiger probably has to shoot in the neighborhood of 74-74 (148) to miss the cut.
In all of Tiger's appearances at Augusta, he has only broken par six times. Only one of those six times has been in the 60s.
When Tiger starts the Masters, his only goal is to stay in contention. Tiger correctly believes that while the tournament can not be won on Thursday, it definitely can be lost.
The problem, however, lies in the state of Tiger's game this season.
Tiger cannot go out on Thursday simply trying to protect par. It will cause him to rely on his putter far too often.
If the putts do not fall, a round that should be a 72 can easily end up a 76.
It is no secret that Tiger has not won on tour since 2009.
If people actually think that is going to change this weekend, they are borderline insane.
Resulting from his lack of victories is a lack of confidence. If you watch him in interviews recently, Tiger seems to have lost that swagger he used to have.
That "I'm better than you. You know it. I know it. The entire world knows it" walk Tiger used to have.
Now, Tiger does not give me the confidence that he can win this weekend, but he does give me the confidence that he might miss the cut.
Over the last year-and-a-half, Tiger has done nearly everything in his power to lower his expectations. We all know his transgressions, so it is useless to go into the details here.
Even so, when Tiger tees it up at Augusta National the fans expect him to slip on the green jacket come Sunday.
That is pressure Tiger does not need at this stage. Although some may claim Tiger has an incredible ability to block out the pressure and crowds, he is still going to feed off of their energy and mood.
This is not the same field Tiger faced last year.
His veil of invincibility is gone. The fear Tiger instilled in the hearts of competitors no longer exists.
The field is stronger now, also. Tiger is seventh in the world, not first.
Before when Tiger walked onto the course, it was a given he would be competing for the trophy come Sunday. Now when Tiger walks onto the course, he is competing to stay relevant and make the cut.
One of the biggest differences between Tiger of the past and the 2011 Tiger is in his wedge play.
It used to be fantastic. Now, it is horrendous. Awful. Amateurish. Any words I missed?
This year on tour Tiger is ranked 140th in sand save percentage. On top of that, Tiger is ranked 156th in approach shots from 75-100 yards.
Good luck sticking around for four days at Augusta with those stats.
Let's be honest. When Tiger stands over a drive, he has no idea where the ball will land.
When Tiger swings well and makes good contact, it will probably be 300 yards right down the center. When Tiger swings poorly and makes bad contact, it may only go 100 yards, or it may go so far right you need a seeing-eye dog to locate it.
To win at Augusta, the driver is the second-most important club in the bag next to the putter. Tiger is ranked 191st in putting on the PGA Tour. That means he is not even hitting half of the fairways.
There is no conceivable way to be playing off of pine straw half of the time and still win the Masters.
To describe Tiger's 2011 campaign in one word, the best choice would be inconsistent.
At the Farmer's Insurance Open at Torrey Pines, Tiger started out well carding back-to-back 69s.
The golf world rejoiced! All was well in the world! Tiger was poised to pounce on the weekend!
And then the weekend actually came.
Tiger shot a 74 in the third round and followed that up by shooting a 75. In effect, Tiger played himself into contention and then easily shot himself out of the tournament.
Tiger's game is like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Great one day, and terrible the next.
No one has any idea where Tiger is mentally. Not even Tiger is sure of where he stands mentally.
To win a golf tournament, let alone the Masters, one must be in complete control of not only their golf but also their mind.
Earlier in the season, PGA Tour rookie Brendan Steele criticized Tiger's attitude and work ethic. Steele claimed, "I don't think he gave it everything today." Steele furthered his statements by saying, "Once it started going in the wrong direction, I don't think it had his full attention."
Now there is no proof that Steele's speculation is true. The fact that Steele said it, however, is worrisome.
Tiger obviously gave the impression that he did not care, and if Tiger enters Augusta with that mindset, there is no way he is sticking around for the weekend.
Tiger's swing is in shambles. There is not a nicer way to put it.
This season alone, Tiger has hit drives that barely went 100 yards! Before this year, that was not even fathomable.
While Sean Foley and Tiger claim all their work is going to pay off, it is not during Masters week.
Players are supposed to be peaking during a major week, not finding their swings. But since Tiger has not found his swing yet, there is no possible way for him to peak this week.
This is the club that will dictate whether Tiger surpasses Jack Nicklaus' major record and becomes the greatest golfer in the history of the game.
So far this season, Tiger has not found a way to string together four solid putting rounds.
This is not going to work at Augusta National.
It is no surprise that in order to win at Augusta National, the putts need to fall. And although Tiger has putted fantastically at Augusta in the past, it is not going to happen this year.
Tiger is ranked 107th on the PGA Tour in putting average. That is horrendous.