Masters Countdown: 27 days
Tiger Woods has rarely struggled coming into the Masters but when he has the results haven't been that bad.
Tiger Woods is struggling. That's not breaking news to anyone. He struggled at the Farmers Insurance Open and he struggled at the Honda Classic before pulling out and most recently he struggled at the Cadillac Championship.
There have been a few reprieves from his struggles (most notably a 66 on Saturday at the Cadillac Championship) but the real story is how will his struggles affect what he does at the Masters.
Because we know that the real Tiger Woods season starts on April 10th and ends on the final day of the PGA Championship.
Let's look at history to give us a glimpse of what we might see from Tiger at Augusta.
This isn't the first time he's had a rough go of it in the lead up to the Masters, here are all the instances in which he hasn't won before Augusta and how his Masters turned out:
1998 -- Tough to say he "struggled" here because he had four top 10s before April. But he did have a WD (Pebble Beach) and didn't win a tournament. Woods finished T8 in his first Masters title defense, six back of his buddy Mark O'Meara.
2004 -- OK, I'm stretching this a little bit because Woods has only had three seasons in which he hasn't won before the Masters, but this year he didn't win a stroke play event and actually struggled a little bit (for him) in them before Augusta.
He did win the Match Play Championship and had three other top 10s but finished T46 at Bay Hill and T16 at the Players. Woods went on to finish T22 at the Masters that year, his second worst ever finish at this tournament as a pro.
2010 -- This was after the fire hydrant incident. Woods announced his intention to play in March.
"After a long and necessary time away from the game, I feel like I'm ready to start my season at Augusta."
That's not a struggle so much as it is an unknown which is actually what I would more closely classify this season as given the injuries. He finished T4 that year with KJ Choi, four shots back of Phil Mickelson.
Woods then went on to finish T4 at the US Open as well but wouldn't have another top 10 finish until November.
2011 -- This is easily the best comparison to make if you're looking for potential positives at this year's Masters. Woods' best finish that season before Augusta was at the Cadillac Championship (T10). He finished T44 and T24 at Torrey Pines and Bay Hill respectively and still went on to compete soundly at the Masters.
His second-round 66 had him three shots back of Rory McIlroy and the golf world drooling at the prospect of a weekend show from those two. But Woods went 74-67 on Saturday and Sunday to finish T4 with Luke Donald and Geoff Ogilvy, four back of eventual champ Charl Schwartzel.
Wood still has a chance to get a win at Bay Hill next week but the moral of the story is that Woods doesn't struggle much at the Masters whether he's scorching hot or playing poorly coming in. The x-factor is his back, of course, but if you're a Woods fan this has to be an encouraging sign as he searches for No. 15.
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