39 days 'til the Masters, will Tiger be ready?

So it was the 14th April, 2019.

Tiger Woods was hunting down his 5th green jacket, he started the day 2 shots behind Francesco Molinari. Woods was tied with countrymen, Tony Finau and a shot in front of the world number 1, Brooks Koepka.

Playing in threesomes due to forecasted inclement weather, Molinari, Woods & Finau had reached the infamous 12th hole, smack bang in the middle of Amen Corner.

I probably don't need to remind you what about what happened next.

Molinari, the outright leader at the time hit first, he'd birdied the 12th in rounds 2 & 3.

He missed his landing spot by a good 12-15 yards, the ball trickling back into the water.

Woods was next, the wily old fox hit a safe shot to the heart of the green, his demeanour didn't change one bit, he was calm, composed and in control.

Finau hit next, he shared the same fate as Molinari. In fact, 4 of the last 5 players in the field found the hazard with Ian Poulter and Koepka doing the same.

After the 12th hole, Tiger sat atop the leaderboard with Molinari and Xander Schauffele who had quietly worked his way up the top.

Tiger took care of the business on the two Par 5's down the back, comfortably birdie-ing both 13 & 15. He marched to the 16th tee with a one shot lead while others tried to chase him down. First it was Schauffele, then Cantlay, Dustin Johnson made a run and Koepka, Fowler and Day weren't too far away either.

It really was the generation of youngsters that idolised Tiger, that were now trying to hunt him down.

Tiger has done some pretty remarkable things at the 16th @ Augusta, most notably is of course the remarkable chip in back in 2005, the year he beat Chris DiMarco in a dramatic playoff.

As he stood on the tee in 2019, the tournament was his to lose, he nailed an 8-iron, using the sideboard of the green to feed the ball back toward the hole. Wonderful theatre!

Do yourself a favour and go to 4:28:00 below and watch the tee shot, or you can watch all 5 and a half hours, it's pretty good viewing!

A birdie at 16, followed by a Par at 17, meant Tiger had some breathing room coming down 18. Boy did he play it safe!

A comfortable closing bogey was enough for Tiger to complete arguably the greatest comeback in the history of sport. Embraced by his family and cheered on by the crowd, Tiger creeped closer to equalling Jack Nicklaus's record of major championship titles.

Tiger now sits at 15, the Golden Bear got 18.

Will Tiger get him? Not sure. Is his game good enough to go back-to-back at Augusta this year, also not sure.

Prior to his Masters victory in 2019, Tiger had had 4 Top 20's and a 30th place finish at the Players Championship. But he had not played much golf and like in 2020, his performances in the 3 other majors weren't overly impressive by his standards, missing the cut at the PGA and Open Championship, and finishing 20th at Pebble Beach in the US Open.

He probably looked in most control of his game back at the President's Cup in Melbourne.

Will he be ready? His form this year hasn't been great, just 2 Top 10's from 7 appearances. And will the back hold up?

Jeez I bloody hope he is right to go! You just get the feeling that everything he has been doing has been geared towards getting ready to defend the green jacket and add a 6th to his collection.

He's listed as about a $21 chance in the markets, that seems fair enough odds for the defending champion, arguably the greatest of all-time and a bloke who has already won 5 times at the place.

I'll be cheering him on, I think he's going to put it all together. It'll only take a solid opening round and Tiger will be on the prowl and the fans, virtual as they may be, will be right behind him.


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