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What went wrong for Tiger Woods at the Masters?

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Tiger Woods entered the 2018 Masters Tournament among a handful of favorites. He left the vaunted piece of golf real estate having never challenged for the lead, 16 strokes off Patrick Reed’s winning pace, and tied for 32nd.

So, what went wrong for Tiger?

The 42-year-old’s performance at the 18th hole, Sunday was a microcosm of his play all week. Woods piped his tee shot down the fairway, carved a seven-iron toward the hole that flew just a tad long. It rolled out 50 feet to the back of the green, and he three-putted for bogey.

Woods spoke about the 18th after his round

“I had so many opportunities to hit the ball close and I didn’t do it..I hit such a beautiful, high powering 7-iron, a foot away from being back down the hill, instead I got this putt that you’ve got to hit sideways.”

A little off. Out of position. Having to putt defensively. None of the aforementioned are the ingredients for strong play at Augusta National, and the four-time tournament winner suffered accordingly, en route to the second worst Masters finish of his career.

While the Masters has the most sophisticated shot-tracking technology in the business, only a poverty of stats are available for public consumption, and none are of the strokes gained variety. Nevertheless, here’s how Woods fared statistically in two key areas from the limited statistical spread.

Greens in regulation: 48/72: 66.67 percent. Bubba Watson led the field at 77.78 percent. Winner Patrick Reed also hit 66.67 percent. Woods exceeded the field average of 61 percent. The obvious conclusion here is something Woods himself observed: He didn’t hit it close enough and he didn’t make enough putts.

Driving accuracy: 30/56: 54 percent. Field leader Bernhard Langer hit 85.71 percent. Patrick Reed hit 73.21 percent. Rickie Fowler hit 71.43 percent. Even Rory McIlroy, who struggled with the big stick at times, hit 62 percent of fairways. Plainly, Woods didn’t drive the ball well enough. However, he’ll take encouragement from finding 11 of 14 fairways Sunday.

Asked for his perspective on his Masters performance, Woods said

“I felt I hit it well enough off the tee to do some things, but I hit my irons awful for the week.”

Based on the data above, this is accurate. He’d likely have hoped for a bit better play off the tee, but the lackluster approach game has to be disappointing.

Sir Nick Faldo offered a similar assessment of Woods’ play

“He came off some really good play in Florida but, unfortunately, there are still too many things wrong with his game. He is struggling with his irons. This has been a wake-up call with what the leaders have done this week. He is still a long way off.”

Ultimately, though, perspective is key in all things, and Woods realizes this

“But to be able to just be out here competing again, if you had said that last year at this particular time I would have said you’re crazy. I had a hard time just sitting or walking. So now to be able to play and compete and hit the ball the way I did, that’s quite a big change from last year.”

So, while it makes sense to evaluate Woods relative to leaders and tournament winners, it’s worth keeping in mind where he was during last year’s Masters: Pain-wracked, contemplating whether he’d ever play professional golf again. For all but his most ardent detractors, a pain-free Woods competing in major championships is a major win.

Woods was characteristically non-committal about his upcoming schedule. However, he traditionally tees it up at the Wells Fargo Championship the week before the players. The tournament begins May 3.

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11 Comments

11 Comments

  1. ChipNRun

    Apr 23, 2018 at 1:29 pm

    Let’s see. Winner Patrick Reed finished at -15… Tiger finished at +1…
    Tiger hit 16 too many shots?

    Seriously, the errant tee shots put him in a big bind.

  2. A. Commoner

    Apr 13, 2018 at 9:33 pm

    Why the insistence to make something of nothing? Woods was never a threat to win or place during all four days. Except for those living vicariously, the world goes on.

  3. joe

    Apr 11, 2018 at 7:28 am

    Additionally, it is only April 11th and Tiger has a few top 10’s, a 2nd place, and a top 30 in a Major! Not too shabby!

  4. joe

    Apr 11, 2018 at 7:27 am

    But hey, Tiger QUALIFIED for the Masters, he made the cut and finished top 30. Any PGA touring professional would take that in all four majors this year in a heartbeat!

  5. ogo

    Apr 9, 2018 at 7:03 pm

    Nothing went wrong… he’s just playing a normal level for a 42 y.o. man with an overly aged golf body. What do you expect when you are forced to swing a golf club at age 2? …. he’s simply worn out his body with 40 years of punishment.

  6. Way

    Apr 9, 2018 at 6:56 pm

    Everything went swimmingly I thought, glad he’s just never going to win again

  7. dennis Clark

    Apr 9, 2018 at 3:43 pm

    Tiger is just fine; his game has always been power, putting and GREAT distance control from the deck. Except for Sunday when his putting faltered, he had the first two but he still doesn’t have feel from the fairway. It will come and he’ll win again. a lot depends on how much time he can out in during events.

  8. Ben Armato

    Apr 9, 2018 at 2:52 pm

    He exceeded my expectations by making the cut. Tiger was done years ago. I don’t see any more majors and maybe he wins the Hero World Challenge but noting important. It’s great to see him smiling.

    • Johnnylongballz

      Apr 9, 2018 at 9:24 pm

      You know he finished 2nd in a PGA tour event already this year right? At this point how can you say he is done? Dude will definitely win again.

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