Tiger Woods: “I feel like I can win” the Masters Tournament

AUGUSTA, GEORGIA - APRIL 09: Tiger Woods of the United States reacts during a practice round prior to the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club on April 09, 2019 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
AUGUSTA, GEORGIA - APRIL 09: Tiger Woods of the United States reacts during a practice round prior to the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club on April 09, 2019 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) /

Tiger Woods has come a long way in just over two years, from doubts about whether he would ever even compete again, to believing he can win the Masters. Is 2019 set to be the next chapter in Tiger’s major comeback? He shared his thoughts with media at Augusta National.

Sporting a new Frank the Headcover logo on his Nike golf shirt, Tiger Woods met with media at The Masters to detail the state of his game.  He sounded confident, but not overly so.

"“I think that winning at East Lake confirmed to me that I could still win again. You have to do it first in order to truly understand that you can do it,” he explained when asked to summarize the last 18 months of his play."

The victory was a culmination of what Woods called the process of seeing whether his game would stand up to the quality level of the PGA Tour.

"“I just feel like that I’ve improved a lot over the past 12, 14 months, but I’ve — more than anything — just proven to myself that I can play at this level again,” he explained. “I’ve worked my way back into one of the players that can win events.”"

In other words, Tiger Woods thinks he’s a threat again.  Many elements of his game are still very good, although even he would likely agree not equal to his prime, which most people view as 2000-2001 when he won the Tiger Slam.

“I feel I can still putt. The hardest part is I just can’t practice like I used to. My back gets sore,” he explained.

As any player with a bad back will tell you, their practice time is affected by the ailment.

Tiger Woods Masters Tournament 2019
AUGUSTA, GEORGIA – APRIL 10: Tiger Woods of the United States plays a shot during a practice round prior to the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club on April 10, 2019 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images) /

“I can’t work on every single part of my game every day,” he added. “I have to pick different parts of my game to work on, and that’s the challenge I now face going forward.”

What he’s trying to do is created a balance between the practice he needs to do and what his body allows him to do.

"“I’ve worked on my putting, and when I have, I’ve putted well,” he explained. “If I worked on my short game, I’ve chipped it well. You know, I just can’t do all things all the time anymore.”"

In addition, as Woods noted, Augusta National has changed over the years since his debut as a professional in 1997.  It underwent the so-called Tiger-proofing with added trees at the 7th, 11th, 15th and 17th. A “second cut” or mini-rough was added, which is just long enough to eliminate the certainty of how a shot will emerge from it. This year, the 5th hole was extended 40 yards.

The course is longer, and the competition is longer, too.

“When I first got here, it was my length,” he began. “The par-5s were all reachable with irons, some with short irons.”

These days, other players have caught up to him in length, and many tees have been backed up.

When Woods first played Augusta National, the longest club he recalls hitting into a par four was an 8-iron. With the changes, he had to learn new strategies.

"“Throughout the years, I also accumulated a lot of knowledge how to play it under different conditions, and playing practice rounds with guys who have won here a lot, who understand how to play it; and then to be a part of the entire process of having to compete as they have evolved the golf course,” he explained."

When it comes to pressure of having to win or needing to win a tournament, Woods noted that the most pressure he felt was the time from the PGA in 2000 to the Masters in 2001.

More from The Masters

“The buildup going into that event, I mean, that’s nine months of just getting asked the same question,” he said. “And to pull it off like that one, yeah, I needed to win that one to get all four.”

For those who have been under a rock for the early part of Woods’ career, he’s referring to his four wins at the 2000 U.S. Open, the 2000 British Open, the 2000 PGA and then the 2001 Masters. Four majors in a row.  While it wasn’t the modern grand slam, it was the Tiger Slam, and as many have said since then, he is the only golfer to have those four trophies on the mantel at the same time, whatever you want to call it.

What about this year at the Masters?

“I feel like I can win. I’ve proven that I can do it and I put myself there with a chance to win the last two major championships of the year last year,” Woods said. “I was right there and just needed to have a couple more things to go my way and not throw away a couple shots here and there, which I was able to do at East Lake.”

Next. Is a smaller Brooks Koepka ready to handle the Masters?. dark

As far as this week goes, he said, “I don’t really need to win again. I really want to.”  And then he smiled.

Should Tiger Woods capture his 15th major championship, full-blown Tigermania will return.