Over the course of Tiger Woods’ latest comeback to professional golf, there have been many more high points than low points through his last start at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
Questions about his health, his iron game, his short game and his putting have all been put to bed, however, there is one aspect of his game that has been missing over the past two months: his driving; specifically, hitting his driver.
Woods has been able to navigate the layouts at PGA National and Bay Hill the past two weeks because he wasn’t asked to hit too many drivers off of the tee. Yet when he needed a good drive on the par-5 16th hole at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, Woods found the out-of-bounds backyard of an adjacent home.
With his next start coming in three weeks at Augusta National, Golf Channel analyst and Tiger’s good friend Notah Begay III said that his play off of the tee has to be cause for concern.
There's no way around it: Tiger is going to have to hit driver at Augusta.
— Golf Channel (@GolfChannel) March 19, 2018
“Project no. 1 over the next two weeks is going to be the driver,” Begay told The Dan Patrick Show. “I think there are two things that you would have to look at with regard to watching him play and it doesn’t show up on any of the statistics because you have to actually be out there and watch, but any time that he had to turn a shot right-to-left with trouble on the left, he struggled a little bit.
“Off of the sixth tee, off of the ninth tee, there were some errant shots, and then we saw the really horrible tee shot (on Sunday) at 16 where he just talked about it in his post-round comments. He just didn’t commit to a shot. The worst thing that a professional athlete can do to themselves to compromise performance is not commit.
“He made a terrible swing and that’s the miss that’s really difficult for him to recover from because the majority of his misses are out to the right, so when you eliminate one half of the golf course you can really make your way around a round of golf much easier. When you have a two-way miss going, which sometimes creeps into his driver, it really makes it difficult to take out some of the trouble that you’re looking at when you’re standing on a tee box.
“He has to really focus in on trying to find some way to navigate Augusta National with the driver because it’s a course that’s going to force you to hit driver.”
Woods has skyrocketed up the Masters betting sheets thanks to his stellar play in recent weeks, jumping all the way to the top of the board as the odds-on favorite to win his fifth green jacket.
2018 Masters updated
T Woods 8/1
D Johnson 10/1
R McIlroy 10/1
J Thomas 10/1
J Spieth 14/1
J Rose 14/1
J Day 16/1
J Rahm 16/1
R Fowler 18/1
P Mickelson 18/1
P Casey 25/1
B Watson 25/1
H Matsuyama 30/1
S Garcia 30/1
T Fleetwood 30/1
H Stenson 40/1
M Leishman 40/1
P Reed 50/1
— Jeff Sherman (@golfodds) March 18, 2018
While the majority of his game seems to be major-championship ready, Woods’ driving could be the make or break piece of his game that keeps him from getting in the winner’s circle.
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