As I was watching The Masters unfold into what would be yet another surprise ending with Bubba Watson claiming the green jacket, I was exchanging texts with fellow FanSider (and Tiger Woods fan) Ricky Keeler of Kickin’ it with Keeler. Ricky also writes for the FanSided Yankees site Yanks Go Yard as well as a personal site, JesusNSports.wordpress.com.
Prior to The Masters, I was a guest on Ricky’s show, Kickin’ it with Keeler. I picked Rory McIlroy. That didn’t pan out too well. Onward…
The question Ricky raised is how Tiger seems to lose a little steam on the back nine where there are holes that you can make a birdie or two. I went back to look at the scorecards since Tiger’s last triumph at Augusta National back in 2005. Here’s a look at the bundle.
A trio of things to point out here.
First, Tiger’s -7 on the back during the 2010 Masters is the only time within this window where Woods was under par for all four rounds. Second, the -6 front nine aggregate during the 2011 Masters was almost completely due to a front nine 31 (-5) during the final round. Finally, the last two years, Tiger has, as you can see, played the front nine better than the back.
That may be a reason behind the lack of a Masters win since 2005, but it’s not the whole reason. Give those that have won (or finished ahead of Tiger) a little credit for showing a willingness to play better golf even during his reign as the world’s top golfer.
We have expected more due to the fact that Woods had won four green jackets within a nine year timeframe. The longest time in between wins: three years (1998-2000) and that was after his first Masters title. The current: seven years. We’re simply not used to it. And as the above table suggests, it’s not totally related to the perceived “back nine woes”. He hasn’t excelled on the back, but he’s not floundered either. Well, this year is a little different.
There is more. There isn’t a big contrast to front nine v. back nine performance from an overall standpoint. There’s only a difference of 0.21 strokes on average (front = 35.57, back = 35.36). The overall score is an average of 70.93 and that includes this years stunning (or not-so-stunning) score of 5-over-par.
And if you ask Tiger, you get the same response: work in progress, getting close, almost there. The win at Arnie’s tournament logically leads you to believe that…until Augusta bit him.
As one of Tiger’s biggest critics, I do think he can rebound from a poor week. The downside to making such a statement is that he failed to break par at Augusta. And there’s something else…
His next tournament (per TW’s website) will be at Quail Hollow for the Wells Fargo Championship (May 3-6) followed by The Players (May 10-13). The last time Tiger visited Quail Hollow (2010), the dreaded “MC” when he was +9 over the first two rounds. Didn’t help that Tiger posted a GIR of 55.6% and his driving accuracy was 21.4%. He does own a win at Quial Hollow back in 2007 when it was known as the Wachovia Championship.
Last year at The Players saw a “W/D” when he was only able to play nine holes (and shooting a front-nine 42, 6-over-par). Also, Woods has a “W/D” in 2010, too. He did win at Sawgrass back in 2001…and we know what a year that was for Tiger.
You know he would dearly love perform better at both venues.