Tiger Woods is two practice rounds into his bid to win a fifth Green Jacket and the word from his companion is highly promising. When Mark O'Meara stepped off the course here yesterday he looked like a man who had seen it all before. "Everything I've seen out there was extremely good," said O'Meara, who donned green himself in 1998. "He said it felt like old times out there again."
The bookmakers certainly envisage a familiar figure in red taking an equally familiar trip to the Butler Cabin on Sunday evening. At 7-2 he is the lowest price he has been to win a major since the scandal of his extra-marital affairs broke in November 2009. His first official title in more than two years at the Arnold Palmer Invitational two weeks ago was viewed as a breakthrough following several injuries as well as a radical swing overhaul. Yet now a corner has been turned and O'Meara sees redemption up ahead.
"It's like riding a bike," said O'Meara. "I know he's had a difficult two-and-a-half years, but it was always in there. He just needed to dig deep and find it. The win at Bay Hill was huge for his confidence. When you haven't won in a while it's tough. Nerves are part of the game and even he was nervous."
But Woods came through – by five shots – and, thus, contention here does not so much seem eminently, but entirely probable. Particularly as he has finished fourth the last two years when his mind and his swing were in imperfect disharmony. "I'd expect him to play well here," said O'Meara. "I'll be shocked if he doesn't. There's no reason why he shouldn't. He's driving the ball well, he's powerful again and he's got a little bit of pep to his step again, coming off the victory."