So the Masters closed without Tiger Woods donning a new green jacket. But that isn't all bad. Despite not winning, Tiger still made some strides in his game.
Overall, Tiger needs to keep playing in tournaments. He hasn't been doing that, and he needs to push his recent average from 16 to about 19, just enough where he doesn't have two weeks down time unless he needs it.
Until he begins to play tournaments at least in a close time period, it's going to be hard to maintain everything he has done. Competitive golf is so much different than range golf, just ask anyone who has seen Tiger of recent. When he's at the range, there's no better player. So obviously there's still some course work to do.
So where did Tiger fall short of par, and where did he excel at Augusta?
Although there aren't any numbers to give, Tiger's driving definitely was not a negative.
Then again, these are the widest fairways that the PGA Tour plays essentially. Although everything was wide open, Tiger still struck his driver very well. His tempo was most evident Friday, but was, of course, good on the front nine Sunday.
While I think he is still a little quick on his swing, the plane is a little upright, but in a good fashion. He keeps his spine very well as he goes through impact, avoiding any pushed tee shots. I love the athletic stance that he has. With his knees bent, he creates a great shaft angle at address.
Like Tiger said, he won't ever be able to replicate what he did with Harmon just due to his knees. But he can get the next best thing.
Driver Grade: B.
A little to work on, but still he put himself in really good position off most tees. For Tiger Woods, we will take that.
With his irons, Tiger has always been one of the best. The difficult situation came up when he was in the rough. With the new grooves, it is a lot harder.
However, as with his driver, Tiger's irons were relatively dialed in.
The thing about Tiger's swing—that is new—is the more upright motion. Tiger actually has to make a move somewhat similar to Sergio Garcia, slightly re-routing his club onto the plane. Obviously, it has worked with Sergio, one of the game's best ball strikers.
However, Tiger's weight shifting is still very different. His transfer is not exactly like Sergio's, as his feet are a little more quiet than Garcia. Overall, the swing isn't by any means a replica, but certain elements do look a lot alike. Yet again, in this video, Tiger's stance is very athletic. Sean Foley is promoting this heavily with Tiger, because of the situation with his knees.
Overall, Tiger hit some brilliant shots this week. There weren't too many miscues with his irons. But there haven't been.
Irons Grade: A-
Still some work with his tempo to keep consistent, and a couple of misplayed shots here or there, Tiger's ball striking was probably the high point for him.
This does not encompass the obvious—just wait one more slide. Tiger's wedges are a separate entity from his irons because most of his wedge shots are smaller swings. Tiger is not a bomb and gouge guy.
Instead of hitting a full lob wedge, Tiger will control a 56 degree and let it take a hop and settle, or spin it back on a string.
Tiger has always been one of the best from 120 yards and in because of the shorter shot abilities he had.
This past week, Tiger put on display some excellent controlled shots, and to be honest, didn't leave too much to be desired in his wedges. Part of the reason for this consistency is the quiet nature of his lower body, again. Without a lot of lateral movement, Tiger is making it easier to swing his wedges and keep them on line.
Wedge Play Grade: A
Tiger played well with the shorter clubs, but he didn't excel enough to get a perfect grade.
Ok, so the slide we all want to read is after this one. But this is definitely still an important aspect of Tiger's game.
Tiger's mental edge was there at Augusta. Somewhat. On thursday, Woods didn't make too many waves. But his best round is not his first. Traditionally, Tiger is a person whose moves are in rounds two and three.
Tiger made his move up in round two. Not much bad could be said about his round, except what is on the next slide. He played with confidence, played each shot, not each swing.
Saturday, however, Tiger never got going. He just couldn't find that spark to get everything in sync. Essentially, Tiger took himself out of the mix.
So, going into the last day, Tiger had the right idea. Go low. He did for nine holes. This time, the front, not the back. He made a valiant charge, never giving up. But the reality was sobering. Tiger's 10-under was never going to be enough, since so many golfers had holes left when he finished.
I can't commend Tiger enough for one of the best efforts at a major Sunday comeback in a long time. He fell just short, and it was for no reason the attitude he had.
His attitude still was a little strange, as you heard him yelling at "Woodrow," but everyone has their quirks. Tiger happens to yell a lot. He was rather reserved with his word choice, much to the fact it was Augusta. He just has to keep working on how he approaches things on the course.
Something else to think about. Tiger finally got the fist pump going. Not obnoxiously, but enough where he could get the crowd and himself into it. It's great to be able to lift yourself up and push yourself to new heights. Tiger feeds off energy like that, and should keep that mentality of focusing on when he hits good shots, adjusting the bad and allowing it to be a part of his evolution.
Grade for Mentality: B.
Two out of four days, he was unbeatable. One, iffy. Another, he wasn't ever there. Left plenty to be food for thought over the next few days.
Of all of the aspects of his game, this was always Tiger's best. Was. Until recently, when Tiger even changed his championship putting stroke, not to mention his putter as well.
If there is any change I disagree with, it is this one. Tiger should have never taken putting advice. Sean Foley has a lot of good concepts, but the putting and driving aspect of the game are not related, and Foley's putting theory encompasses much of that.
Tiger could have posted 16-under par without any difficulty. All he had to do was not three putt. But he did, six times in four rounds. While nobody avoided three putts, Tiger definitely was at the higher end for the amount he posted.
If Tiger can't putt, the rest of the grades I just gave are irrelevant. He won't be the same Tiger. I think that after this tournament, Tiger knows what he needs to work on, and will make the right choice and drill putts for an extra hour a day.
Putting Grade: D+
The only reason he got this high of a grade was because of his two good days. Rather, his two good nines. Tiger did have a stretch where his putting was good, but most of it was not.
He left so many putts out on the back nine on sunday, not to mention the rest of the tournament. If he could have putted remotely well, he could have been chasing his 1997 score of 19-under par.
Overall, Tiger is within inches of success. Literally, because his success is all going to be dependent on that little white ball rolling in the hole once it is on the green.
Unfortunately for Tiger, putting is a major part of the game, and his overall game was brought down considerably by just one aspect.
Overall Grade: B-
Like I said, Tiger did a lot of things right. Unfortunately, his putting took his grade of the rest from about an A- to a B-. Putting is that important. It just can't be about how well the ball is coming off the face. If it was, I would have a lot less issues competing myself.
Chalk this up to a good performance, building towards hopefully a great one.