Tiger Plays Practice Round at Augusta, Arnie Predicts He Won’t Regain Greatness

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The Associated Press

Tiger Woods appeared at Augusta National playing a practice round earlier this week, rousing speculation that the most celebrated golfer for the last two decades may be ready to reactivate his game and reignite his quest to win his fifth Masters and his 15th Major championship.

Tiger’s agent Mark Steinberg said in an email, “Tiger clearly is working hard and he will advise as to when he is ready to play competitively.” Because Tiger is a previous winner of the Masters, theoretically, he does not have to make a decision whether he is joining the field until his tee time next Thursday. Yet, Golf.com  predicts that Tiger will probably make his decision before Sunday.

Tiger cruised the course with two Augusta National members and his caddy Joe LaCava apparently testing to see if his game is ready for one of the most intimidating golf courses in the World. Wood’s latest tour outings uncovered serious flaws in his short game. Augusta might be the last place on earth one would want to be if suffering from chipping yips and an unsteady putting stroke. It would be grueling TV, though undeniably fascinating, if Tiger decides to tee it up still equipped with his recent maladies around the green.

Enjoying one the most storied Masters careers in history, Tiger played the tournament 19 times and has four green jackets hanging in his closet for his efforts. Eleven times Woods placed in the top five. That being said, it has been ten years since Tiger won at Augusta. In 2005, at the age of 29, he beat journeyman Chris DiMarco on the first hole of a playoff for his 9th Major victory.

Many blame Tiger’s drought of winning Major tournaments—he hasn’t won since the U.S. Open in 2008 at Torrey Pines—and his drop from the world’s top ranked golfer to #104 to his much publicized infidelities and ultimate divorce with his wife Elin.

Golf.com reported, however, that Arnold Palmer contends in Men in Green, the new book by Sports Illustrated writer Michael Bamberger, that if Tiger wants to get his game back he needs to return to the basics instilled in him by his father.

“As long as Tiger stuck to the routine that his father had laid out for him, he was going to succeed. Had he continued to do that, he probably could have established a record that would never have been broken,” Palmer holds. The 85-year-old golf great, otherwise known as “The King,” believes that Tiger got away from Earl Woods’s regimen. He said that “Tiger got into other things” and maintains that it may have something to do with the “psychological effect of the game.”

Palmer added that it is possible that Tiger could regain his stature in golf: “Could he go back to where he was? He could. Do I think he will? No.”