April 06, 2015

Tiger begins preparation for Masters with practice round

Tiger Woods hit the course ahead of the 79th Masters on Monday at Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Ga. Woods arrived about 3:30 p.m. ET and worked on his chipping, then played 11 holes, nine with good friend and former Masters champion Mark O’Meara.

A four-time winner of the Green Jacket, Tiger looked trim and relaxed, and made several birdies, including at the par-4 first, where he hooked his drive into the ninth fairway, then hit a towering iron over the trees to six feet and made the putt.

Woods delighted the large, appreciative crowd by reaching the par-5 second hole in two with an iron; pounded a big drive at the par-4 third and pitched to short birdie range; hit a beautiful 3-iron to the 247-yard fourth inside 10 feet; had a tap-in birdie at the par-4 seventh; knocked his second shot over the back of the green at the long, uphill par-5 eighth; and made a scrambling par at the par-4 ninth.

Tiger played the par-4 10th and par-4 18th by himself, finishing just before dark.

“It’s been a process,” Woods said. “But I’m on the good side now.”

Tiger, who hasn’t competed since the Farmers Insurance Open in February when he withdrew after 11 holes with a tight lower back, has worked hard on all phases of his game, especially his chipping. He played two practice rounds at Augusta last week and announced he would play in the tournament last Friday.

“It’s a progression,” he said. “I felt like I had to get my game into a spot where I could compete to win a golf tournament, and it’s finally there.”

 O’Meara liked what he saw.

“I saw some good signs,” said O’Meara. “His pitching looks a lot better. He’s worked really hard on it. There’s a lot of pressure on him; there has been his whole life. But if he swings the way he is capable of and pitches and rolls the putter, there’s no reason he can’t have a good week.”

 Woods missed last year’s tournament due to injury and said it feels good to be back.

“It was nice to get out here,” Tiger said. “It was a little bit faster than we played it last week. Chipping is fine. I wanted to test out some wedges. That was why I was chipping a little bit more. It came down to a couple different bounce settings because it’s different from Florida. We figured the right one out.”