Can Tiger Woods strike again at The Masters?

Tiger Woods during a practice round at the 2020 Masters
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Ricky Dimon

Golf · 1 year ago

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Since graduating from Davidson (The College That Stephen Curry Built), I have been writing about sports--just about any and all you can think of!--and coaching tennis in Atlanta, Ga. Beyond the four major sports, I am an avid tennis fan and cover the ATP Tour on a daily basis. If I'm not busy writing, you can generally find me on a tennis court or traveling the world wherever a sporting event takes me.

Tiger Woods is the defending champion of The Masters.

At one point you probably never thought you would ever hear those words again. And they still sound bizarre, because way more than a year later—19 months, in fact—Tiger is in no such form that would suggest he is the defending champion of any tournament…much less the biggest and best tournament in the world!

Alas, that is the case heading into the first-ever November Masters, which begins on Thursday in Augusta, Ga.

A look back at 2019

Much unlike the case this year, Tiger had plenty of momentum behind him in advance of the 2019 Masters. He finished sixth at the 2018 Open, was runner-up one month later at the PGA Championship, placed sixth at the BMW Championship (a FedEx Cup Playoffs event), and famously triumphed at The Tour Championship. That set the stage for 2019 success, and Tiger kicked off that season with five consecutive top-30 performances prior to arriving at Augusta National.

As such, Tiger was the fourth favorite at most books (right around +1500) behind Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson, and Justin Rose. The leaderboard was stacked right from the start, while Tiger methodically plodded his way up the board with rounds of 70 (T11 after Thursday), 68 (T6 after Friday), and 67 (T2 after Saturday). Tiger became the odds-on favorite to win The Masters when third-round leader Francesco Molinari double-bogeyed the 15th hole. The American birdied it at the same time to take a one-shot lead, and he all but slammed the door with another birdie on 16. Tiger went on to win by one stroke (he led by two going into 18 before making a conservative, comfortable bogey) over Johnson, Brooks Koepka, and Xander Schauffele.

Tiger Woods Augusta

2020 struggles

Although Tiger did not entirely ride off into the 2019 sunset after donning a fifth green jacket, he unsurprisingly played little golf the rest of the year (the other three majors, The Memorial, and two tournaments in the FedEx Cup Playoffs).

The 44-year-old’s 2020 season (which officially began at the end of 2019) got off to a fast start, but the coronavirus hiatus clearly did not come at a good time. Tiger has simply been unable to get in gear since returning from the five-month layoff. Although he has missed only one cut in seven appearances (at the U.S. Open, it must be noted), he also has no finishes better than T37. Tiger would have missed the cut in his most recent start had there been one, as he placed T72 out of 77 participants at the Zozo Championship three weeks ago.

Outlook

On one hand, Augusta National obviously gives Tiger a better chance than most courses otherwise would. After all, he has won this tournament five times and has seven other top-five finishes. Even though he is not playing well by his lofty standards these days, he does appear to be healthy—which can never be taken for granted when it comes to the oft-injured superstar. A healthy Tiger on his Augusta stomping grounds can never be completely counted out.

That being said, current form may be a bigger story than the setting this week. The Zozo Championship is an event Tiger won last year, and this time around he almost finished in last place. Rounds of 73 and 77 at the U.S. Open a month prior to the Zozo disaster were even more alarming. Quite simply, this just isn’t the same Tiger as the one that was on display in the spring of 2019. Furthermore, tournament officials announced on Monday that the cut rule has been changed for the first time since 2013. No longer is the 10-shot rule in effect. The top 50 players (plus ties) will make the cut on Friday; if you are outside of the top 50, you are gone… even if you are within 10 shots of the lead.

At +200, there is actually good value on Tiger to miss the cut. It would be bad for the tournament, but not necessarily for your bank account if that’s a play you decide to make.

Want more picks and predictions for the 2020 Masters? Check out all our expert previews below:

FAQs

How Old Is Tiger Woods?

Tiger Woods is 44 years old, having been born on December 30, 1975.

Is Tiger Woods playing this week?

Tiger Woods will be playing in the 2020 Masters at Augusta National Golf Club this week. It will be Tiger’s 23rd appearance in The Masters.

How Many Masters Has Tiger Woods Won?

Tiger Woods has won The Masters five times. He first won it in 1997 at the age of 21. He then won the tournament in 2001, 2002 and 2005. Fourteen years on from that triumph, Tiger finally donned the famous green jacket once again as he won The Masters in 2019.

How Many Majors Has Tiger Woods Won?

Tiger Woods has won 15 majors in total. As well as the five Masters victories, he has won the U.S. Open three times (2000, 2002, 2008), The Open three times (2000, 2005, 2006), and the USPGA Championship four times (1999, 2000, 2006, 2007).

The expert golf handicappers at Pickswise bring you the latest golf betting odds, expert Golf Picks and Predictions, including round-by-round picks for the 2020 Masters Tournament.

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