Tiger at the 2011 Masters: What Augusta Means to Tiger This Year

Paddy MillerContributor IIIApril 6, 2011

AUGUSTA, GA - APRIL 06:  Tiger Woods hits a shot as his caddie Steve Williams looks on during a practice round prior to the 2011 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 6, 2011 in Augusta, Georgia.  (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
Andrew Redington/Getty Images


It was supposed to be his triumphant return to the course he loved.


Many logically doubted him while many logically said he would win. There was no consensus on the one who had dominated the game for so long. Some said it was too much time since he played competitively and he didn’t stand a chance, some said it did not matter.


Tiger would do well in the 2010 edition capturing a T4 finish with Phil Mickelson surging on Saturday with back-to-back eagles and a solid performance on Sunday to capture his third green jacket.


Woods played well, but Mickelson was awe-inspiring when he needed to be in order to win. Perhaps Golf was looking at a new era, with Mickelson at the helm.


It almost looked like the torch was passed to a new dominating force. However, it seemed as though Lefty forgot the torch on the banks of Rae’s Creek. We hadn’t heard from him afterwards until he conquered the final two days last week at Houston .


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Woods would threaten a bit in the US Open at Pebble Beachanother old favorite, but he would fail to capture a victory at all in 2010. He is now well over a year without a victory with his last coming at the BMW Championship in early September of 2009.


The 2011 Masters now looms large on Woods’ calendar. The pre-tournament hype that Woods’ creates is starting to fade as we go weekend-after-weekend without Tiger atop the leader board.


What can be even more frightening for Eldrick is that a plethora of new names are starting to show up atop the list (OWGR if you want to be precise)Kaymer, Westwood and McDowell to name a few. The list of golfers that are capable of winning tournaments are increasing, the number of quotes of golfers saying Tiger does not scare them is increasing, and the number of tournaments that go by without a Woods victory is increasing.


However, Augusta is the old constant for Woods. Whether Tiger was going through personal strife or yet just another swing change, Tiger could always depend on coming to Augusta and having a tremendous chance of walking away with a new garment.


After all, he’s won here four times. However, he won six times at Bay Hill and his T10 finish as his best outing of the year was mostly due to a lightning-in-a-bottle final round. What makes us think there is much cause for optimism this weekend at Augusta ?


If you think there is much uncertainty in the last few paragraphs, you aren’t alone. It is the same amount of uncertainty that is in Tiger’s game at the moment.


Given Tiger’s stats this might be his only chance to win this season unless he finds his old game. Woods is currently 119th in driving accuracy only finding the fairway 48 percent of the time. When is the last time somebody won the US Open or Open Championship hitting the fairway less than half the time?


Tiger had been a betting favorite until Phil Mickelson finally found that game he displayed a little less than 365 days ago. Now Lefty goes down Magnolia Lane as the one-to-beat and given his history at Augusta , it is very hard to argue with Las Vegas .


While Tiger’s last round at Bay Hill might suggest an Augusta renaissance, his game in general suggests a made cut at the least with maybe a top-10 finish similar to last season.


While much uncertainty has followed Tiger Woods around the course so far this year, a good showing (not even a win) might put some of the criticism to restand that is a very good thing for Woods and his camp no matter how much they say they don’t need it.


However, if Tiger were to come out and play poorly and possibly miss the cut let the doubters and the critics rain down on Mr. Woods. Let them say things like he is finished and he may never win againand they might be right.