It’s been almost 11 years since Tiger Woods won the most recent of his 14 majors. Three more since he slipped on the Green Jacket – as is the privilege of the Masters champion – for the fourth time.
Could this be the weekend all that changes?
The 43-year-old finds himself one shot off of the lead at Augusta National after a four-under 68 in round two vaulted him to six-under for the tournament.
The players above him all have major-winning pedigree of their own. Adam Scott, Francesco Molinari, Brooks Koepka, Louis Oosthuizen and Jason Day have won the game’s four most prestigious titles seven times between them, and all since the most recent of Woods’ victories in the events that matter.
Still, the former world No.1 is quietly confident about his prospects. Why shouldn’t he be? Today was the day the Tiger roars finally returned to Augusta, none louder, none more rousing than the one that followed his huge birdie putt on 15.
As the ball rolled towards the hole, stalked all the way by the familiar sight of a fist-pumping Woods, the roots of the Augusta National’s old pines quivered, the yells of pumped up patrons’ making the hallowed turf tremble.
Granted, these are the green shoots of Tiger’s to return the major winner’s circle – a ring that once appeared to be his exclusive preserve – but old times? It sure felt like it.
“I feel like I played my own way back into the tournament,” said Woods. “I was just very patient today. It felt very good to be out there doing what I was doing. This is now three straight majors that I've been in the mix, so it's good stuff.”
Good is correct. It could have been great had he been more clinical on the greens, particularly from short range.
Despite finding only seven of his 14 fairways, Woods led the field in greens in regulation in round two, hitting 16 out of 18.
However, it seemed that the further he was from the hole, the greater the likelihood of him converting one of those birdie opportunities. The stats bear that out. He was best-in-field for putts from over 20 feet – but ranked 74th out of 87 from inside five feet. Not that he was unduly concerned.
“I missed a few putts out there but I'm not too bummed out about it because I hit them on my lines, so I can live with that,” he added. “I can live with days when I'm hitting putts on my line and they just don't go in. That's the way it goes.”
Or to put it another way: it is what it is.
Tiger’s beginning to talk like his old self. When that happens, great things usually follow.
For many reasons, but particularly those, this weekend promises to be utterly captivating.
Will this be the weekend Tiger Woods wins major No.15?
Do you think Tiger Woods will get the job done this weekend? Or do you reckon his major-winning days are behind him? Leave your thoughts in our Comments section below.