The Masters 2013: Tiger Woods has plenty of opposition in Augusta
World number one is favourite to win first major of the year
Tuesday 09 April 2013
He is back at the top of the world rankings and back as a short-priced favourite for the Masters, but all is not lost for those out to prevent Tiger Woods from winning a fifth Green Jacket.
With three wins in four strokeplay events on the PGA Tour this season and two in his last two starts, Woods is understandably the name on everyone's lips when it comes to the first major of the year.
But with the favourite in each of the last seven years failing to win at Augusta National, the likes of Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose and Phil Mickelson will still have their eyes on the prize when play gets under way on Thursday.
Woods himself was the last favourite to win here in 2005, when he edged out Chris Di Marco in a play-off to win his fourth Masters title.
"I am surprised, I didn't realise it's been that long since he won," said Ryder Cup partner Steve Stricker. "And everything about this course is suited for his game.
"He's had a couple of opportunities in there but all that can all change over this next week and I'm sure he's going to get right in there.
"It seems like he's in a good spot. He's happy and he's relaxed and he just feels good about what he's doing with his game, and it's showing in his attitude too."
Stricker is partly responsible for Woods' resurgence this season, giving him a putting tip ahead of the WGC-Cadillac Championship at Doral which the 14-time major winner went on to win for the seventh time.
"I played 14 holes with him on Sunday and he's hitting it nicely," Stricker added.
"Looks like he's got a ton of confidence in that putter too, which you need to go around here or anywhere if you're going to win a golf tournament.
"It looks like he's comfortable in his game and what he's doing and I expect him to be in the mix come Sunday for sure."
And does Woods return the favour when Stricker, who is playing a limited schedule this year, needs advice?
"Yeah, it's mutual," the 46-year-old said with a smile. "We were talking on Sunday about pitching and chip shots and little wedge play. I was asking him about what he does, his action on the way back and on the way through.
"We try to help each other out once in a while. It's not like we do it every time we play or talk to one another, it's just when things pop up. He's the best player in the world and it's fun to bounce some ideas off him here and there."
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