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Why Tiger Woods May Not Be Ready for the 2012 Masters

Michael FitzpatrickFeatured ColumnistOctober 14, 2011

SAN MARTIN, CA - OCTOBER 09:  Tiger Woods makes a tee shot on the 10th hole during the final round of the Frys.com Open at the CordeValle Golf Club on October 9, 2011 in San Martin, California.  (Photo by Robert Laberge/Getty Images)
Robert Laberge/Getty Images

“It's a progress, a progression. You take it step by step.”—Tiger Woods, August 4, 2011 in Akron, Ohio.

“I've just got to keep playing. It's just something that comes over time of just playing and getting the feel for it.”—Tiger Woods, August 7, 2011 in Akron, Ohio.

“It's a process. I haven't played, so for me to get my playing feel, my playing skills, it's a different level than it is being back home.”—Tiger Woods, August 7, 2011 in Akron, Ohio.

“I've been away from the game for a while, but I'm starting to get the feel of hitting shots and how far the ball is going and just getting that more and more target awareness that just comes from just playing in tournament golf.”—Tiger Woods, August 10, 2011, in Johns Creek, Georgia.

“That's the only way I'm going to improve, so I need to put in the legwork. I need to get out there and get the reps in.”—Tiger Woods, August 10, 2011, in Johns Creek, Georgia.

“I hadn't really been practicing a lot, so still learning a new system and understanding what Sean wants me to do, so that's going to take reps.”—Tiger Woods, August 10, 2011, in Johns Creek, Georgia.

“I tried to come back and play. I didn't have it, just didn't have enough reps to feel comfortable and hit shots in tournaments when it really mattered.”—Tiger Woods, October 5, 2011, in San Martin, California, referring to his comeback at the Bridgestone Invitational and PGA Championship earlier in the year.

“I thought if I could have gotten more tournament reps, I could have gotten into the flow of competing and playing, and I would have found it faster. But that wasn't the case. And I played six rounds, four at Bridgestone, two at the PGA. That wasn't enough.”—Tiger Woods, October 5, 2011 in San Martin, California

"It's always a progression. You've got to do it on the range at home and got to do it on the golf course and eventually here and down the stretch, and then in major championships and win those bad boys. It's a progression.”—Tiger Woods, October 7, 2011 in San Martin, California

“When you're implementing changes, it's nice to have more competitive reps to fall back to because as of right now, I haven't had that many competitive reps with Sean.”—Tiger Woods, October 7, 2011, in San Martin, California.

For Tiger Woods, it’s been all about reps and getting back into the flow of tournament golf, yet when asked last week whether or not he’d be playing again prior to his trip to Australia in November, Woods curtly answered, “No. I'm on a pretty busy part of the year. So no.”

Although Woods' game looked far better last week than it did seven weeks earlier at the PGA Championship, where he posted rounds of 77 and 73 to miss the cut by a wide margin, he was still nowhere near his top form.

Woods ranked 68th out of 80 players in driving accuracy at the Frys.com Open, was 21st in driving distance and was incredibly inconsistent on and around the greens.

Woods managed to post three consecutive rounds of 68, which had many concluding that he had officially begun his journey down yet another comeback trail. But while three rounds in the 60s is certainly an improvement for Woods, you must also take into account the fact the he finished ten strokes behind the leaders at a second-tier PGA Tour event.

Plain and simple, Tiger 3.0, 4.0, 5.0—heck, I’ve lost track by now—only vaguely resembled the man who won 14 major championships and 71 PGA Tour events during the first 13 years of his career.

If it's tournament reps that Woods really needs, he simply may not have enough of them under his belt by the time he drives down Magnolia Lane next April.

Woods will play the Australia Open in November. He’ll then play in China and will play his own Chevron World Challenge in December.

Next year, Woods will likely attend the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines; he may possibly play an event in the Middle East; he may possibly enter the WGC-Accenture Match Play (if he is in the top 64 in the world, which, believe it or not, is a big “if”); he’ll play at Doral, and then he’ll play the Arnold Palmer Invitational before heading to Augusta for the 2012 Masters.

That means that between now and next April, Woods could play only six tournaments, which would be just 24 competitive rounds if he were to make the cut at each event.

Woods could possibly play in the Middle East and at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship, but that would still bring his total competitive rounds to only 29-32 between now and the Masters.  

That is not a lot of golf for a player who has lived by the word “reps” for the past two years.

The issue with Woods is that he is also fighting injuries. 

He has a left knee that has been operated on four times (that we know about) including a reconstructive surgery in 2008.

He is also fighting an Achilles injury that took him out of action for most of the 2011 season.

So, even if Woods felt like adding a few more tournaments to his schedule between now and next April, he may not be physically able to do so.  

Woods may eventually return to his winning ways in 2012, but if you’re looking for him to slip into a fifth green jacket next April, he may simply be a few “reps” short by the time those Azaleas begin blooming in Augusta, Georgia.  

All quotes for this article came directly from PGA Tour interview transcripts and ASAP Sports (asapsports.com)

For for golf news, insight and analysis, check out The Tour Report.

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