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Opinion & Analysis

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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Opinion & Analysis

Fantasy Preview: 2018 Zurich Classic of New Orleans

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Just as in 2017, the Zurich Classic of New Orleans will once again provide a change in format for the players this week. Players will team up once more at TPC Louisiana for a combination of Best Ball (Rounds 1 and 3) and Alternate Shot (Rounds 2 and 4). Unfortunately, the change in format means that there is no DraftKings this week.

The course is long at over 7,400 yards, but it’s also very generous off the tee. TPC Louisiana offers the opportunity to go low, and players took advantage last year despite the inclement weather conditions. It took a Monday playoff to separate them, but eventually Cameron Smith and Jonas Blixt pipped Kevin Kisner and Scott Brown by making birdie on the fourth playoff hole to take the title after both teams had posted 27-under par in regulation.

Selected Tournament Odds (via Bet365)

  • Justin Rose/Henrik Stenson 7/1
  • Patrick Reed/Patrick Cantlay 12/1
  • Justin Thomas/Bud Cauley 14/1
  • Bubba Watson/Matt Kuchar 14/1
  • Jordan Spieth/Ryan Palmer 14/1
  • Jon Rahm/Wesley Bryan 16/1
  • Rafa Cabrera Bello/Sergio Garcia 22/1

For the first time, Bubba Watson and Matt Kuchar (14/1) will team up for this event. Last year, Watson played alongside J.B Holmes. The two performed well, finishing in a tie for fifth place. TPC Louisiana has been a course that has suited Watson’s game over the years, his prodigious length being a significant factor. Along with his T-5 in 2017, Watson has a victory and three other top-20 finishes at the course when the event was an individual stroke-play tournament.

While Watson can be feast or famine at times, Kuchar is Mr. Consistent. He hasn’t missed a cut in over a year, and he has been a top-10 machine over the past few years on the PGA Tour. Despite this, Kuchar hasn’t been able to convert many of his top-10 finishes into wins, but playing alongside Watson this week — who has already notched two victories in 2018 — may help his cause. Over their last 24 rounds, Watson ranks third for Strokes Gained-Off the Tee and eighth in Strokes Gained Total. Over the same period, Kuchar has been predictably consistent, ranking in the top third in the field in every major Strokes Gained category. It’s an intriguing partnership, with Watson’s explosiveness combined with Kuchar’s consistency, and it’s a cocktail that should prove to be a formidable force at TPC Louisiana.

Two men with the hot hand coming into this event are fellow Americans, Jimmy Walker and Sean O’Hair (25/1). Last week at the Valero Texas Open both men excelled, posting the highest finishes of their year thus far. Walker finished solo 4th, while O’Hair grabbed a T-2. It’s the pairs first time playing TPC Louisiana together, but Walker has some good course form to lean on. Back in 2012 and 2013, he posted back-to-back top-20 finishes, which shows that TPC Louisiana is a course that fits his game. Accuracy off the tee has never been Walker’s strength, but the generous fairways may be one of the reasons that he has performed well at this course.

O’Hair has been in good form as of late. The Texan has three top-15 finishes in his last six events, and last week he recorded his highest Strokes Gained Total at an event in years. Walker also seems to have turned a corner with his game. Along with his excellent performance last week, he managed a top-20 finish at the Masters, and his Strokes Gained-Total at the Valero was his highest since his 2016 PGA Championship victory. With both men coming off their best performances in a long time, they should be confident. The duo looks to be a decent value to mount a challenge this week.

Last year’s runners-up Kevin Kisner and Scott Brown (40/1) are hard to ignore at their price this week. Brown has struggled mightily for form in 2018, missing six cuts out of 11 events played so far this year, but the prospect of playing alongside Kisner may be the boost that Brown’s 2018 is needing.

Kisner’s form has been strong as of late. He backed up his runner-up finish at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play with a T-28 at Augusta before grabbing a T-7 at the RBC Heritage. At Harbour Town, Kisner’s iron play was especially sharp, with his Strokes Gained-Approaching the Greens total being the highest since the Memorial last year. Despite Brown’s slump, in a highly tricky format to predict, the pair showed enough chemistry last year and an ability to excel in the format, which is enough for me to consider their price a little undervalued this week.

Recommended Plays

  • Bubba Watson/Matt Kuchar 14/1
  • Jimmy Walker/Sean O’Hair 25/1
  • Kevin Kisner/Scott Brown 40/1
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Podcasts

Gear Dive: Legendary club builder Larry Bobka speaks on Tiger’s old Titleist irons

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Legendary club builder Larry Bobka joins us in the first episode of our new podcast called “Gear Dive,” hosted by Johnny Wunder, GolfWRX’s Director of Original Content. Gear Dive is a deep look into the world of golf equipment, and Wunder will be interviewing the craftsman, the reps and the players behind the tools that make up the bags of the best golfers in the world.

Bobka, our first guest, is a former Tour rep and club builder involved in some of the most important clubs of the past 25 years. From his days at Wilson Golf working with legends such as Payne Stewart, Hale Irwin and Bernhard Langer, he transitioned into the Golden Age of Titleist/Acushnet building clubs for Tiger Woods, Davis Love, David Duval and Brad Faxon. He currently runs Argolf where he builds and fits handmade putters for Tour players and amateurs alike. He’s one of the Godfather’s of modern golf equipment.

Skip to 45:30 for the discussion about Tiger’s Titleist irons.

Check out our podcast on SoundCloud below, or click here to listen on iTunes!

What do you think of the new podcast? Leave your feedback in the comments below!

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Podcasts

Gary Player joins our 19th Hole podcast, talks past and future of golf

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Hall-of-Famer and career Grand Slam winner Gary Player joins host Michael Williams for an exclusive one-on-one interview at the Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf tournament and Big Cedar Lodge in Branson, Missouri. Player talks about the past and future of the game, including his take on everything from reigning in the golf ball and golf courses, to advocating for more testing for performance enhancing drugs on the Tour. Steve Friedlander of Big Cedar Lodge also appears.

Listen to the full podcast on SoundCloud below, or click here to listen on iTunes!

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19th Hole

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