Tiger returned to the course with a triumphant +1 during Thursday's Masters action. But how did each part of his play rank?
Tiger at the Masters – marks out of 10
No matter what he does on the course, Tiger Woods is always going to be the talking point of a tournament he’s in.
Here’s how each part of his game ranked on my scale.
Driving Ranking: 7/10
Tiger’s driving distance left something to be desired on Thursday. His average distance ended up at 261 yds, while the field averaged out at 283. But, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
One of Woods’ major issues thorughout the past few years has been his tendency to get hurt because he swings too hard. If taking a little off means he actually finishes a tournament, walking upright, it seems like a smart move.
Accuracy is another argument altogether. When the drives were good, they were great. Tiger hit 10/14 fairways which was one to two better than the field. But when they were bad, they were dreadful. His tee shot on 9 ended up on the 1st fairway.
Irons/approach Ranking: 6/10
It was an… interesting afternoon for Tiger using the irons. The four-time Masters champ was right on pace with the field, hitting 61% GIR.
Again, it’s the same problem that has been plaguing Woods for a few seasons: Consistency. Tiger had some supberb moments with the irons, including on the par-4 7th. Woods was behind a tree but found a way to swing as hard as a human possibly can, and put the ball on the green.
But, when it was off, it was off. On the approach of the par-5 8th, the camera on the green couldn’t find the ball. That’s because it ended up against the stands, almost taking a couple of patrons with it.
Chipping Ranking: 9/10
This was by far the best part of the day. Tiger Woods actually looked like a professional when chipping the ball, instead of a weekend player dusting off his lob wedge after a long winter.
Time and time again, Woods proved his yips with the chipping game were a thing of the past. From the nice 30-yard pitch over the sand on the 11th to a 40 yard attempt to within a few feet on 12, Tiger looked confident with the wedeges and around the green.
This game is better when Tiger looks like Tiger.
Putting Ranking: 7/10
After starting with a three-putt on one, I think a lot of people got the feeling we were in for a ‘bad Tiger’ day, but he ended up righting the ship and turning in a decent day on the greens.
He didn’t do himself many favours, leaving himself with eight birdie attempt over 20 feet (he missed all of them), but he looked competent and confident with the putter.
There was one where I felt particulary bad for him. The birdie attempt on no.16 was one revolution of the ball short from being a beautiful putt. Instead, it went down in the scorecard as a routine par.
Altogeher, his reads were right, his speed and accuracy looked rusty.
Mental Health: 8/10
Isn’t this the most important part of Tiger’s game this week? Throughout the early part of Masters week, Tiger seemed almost… Happy? This isn’t something we’ve been accustomed to seeing from him over the past few years.
But during the par-3 contest and in interviews, Woods seemed chipper, and excited to be back at the Masters.
Yes, during Thrusday’s round, we did see an outburst or two. Woods dropped his club on the follow-through on a couple disappointing approach shots.
We also got vintage Tiger during a wayward drive on no.15. The words, “No, Tiger.. Dumb***,” was clearly picked up by the microphones.
But after the round, when many would have expected Woods to be negative about finishing +1 and 9 strokes off the lead, he went positive on us.
When talking to the media, Woods praised his short game: “I felt good out there. The only thing I really struggled with was the pace of the greens. We were talking about it all day. It’s hard to get yourself committed to hit the putts that hard even though they were all downhill.”
Prediction for Round 2:
Woods looked rusty on Thursday, like a guy who hasn’t competed for over a month. I look for him to have a sharper round. It may not show up with a much better score, but I expect less scrambling and more consistent play.
Definetely look for Tiger to be playing through the weekend.