Oct 22nd, 2020
Can Tiger Woods defend his Masters title?
Masters champion refuses to rule himself out
Woods stunned the golfing world last April when he won his fifth Masters title with a score of 13 under par, beating Xander Schauffele by a single shot. It was Woods’ first Masters title since 2005, and not many people would have tipped the injury-prone former World Number 1 to be pictured in his fifth Green Jacket.
But, does Tiger have any chance of fighting off the tough opposition, and retaining the Masters crown this year? Well, not if his recent US Open form at New York’s Winged Foot is anything to go by.
The 15-time Major winner missed his first cut as a professional at the 2006 US Open at ‘The Foot’, and history repeated itself back in September, as Woods, who was 10 over par, failed to land himself in the top 60 after 36 holes.
However, despite not competing towards the top of the leader board at the US Open, Woods, who will be 45 years old in December, has refused to rule himself out of contention at the famous Augusta National. Following his early dismissal at Winged Foot, Woods said: “There’s still one more Major to go this year — and my Zozo title defence at Sherwood.
“We have a couple of big, big things ahead of us. It’s frustrating that I’m not here for the weekend competing for this great championship.
“So, I’m not going to be swinging a club for a little bit. Well, until Tuesday, because I’ve already something arranged for that day.
“Then after that, take a little break, and then refocus, and get back after it.”
We will see if Woods’ month-long break from the course has helped improve his game when he returns for the Zozo Championship, which has been moved to California’s Sherwood Country Club, due to travel restrictions, on October 22nd. Woods, who had just returned from a knee injury, won last year’s edition of the tournament, which was held at Japan’s Accordia Golf Narashino Country Club, by three shots.
Sherwood Country Club is more than a familiar course for Woods. The 15-time Major winner hosted the PGA-recognised World Challenge tournament, in aid of the Tiger Woods Foundation, at the Santa Monica course between 2000 and 2013, and even won the competition five times within that period.
A win at the Zozo Championship would move Woods onto 83 PGA Tour victories – meaning that he would overtake Sam Snead’s record of 82 – and boost his confidence ahead of next month’s Masters.
As well as beating Sneads record, Woods has made it clear that, before he retires, he wants to beat Jack Nicklaus’ Major record of 18. If Tiger, who is still three Majors short of Nicklaus’ record achievement, doesn’t slip into his sixth Green Jacket at Augusta next month, or when they return to the historic course again next April, then you’d think Woods’ chances of beating that record has slipped away from him. Afterall, he has missed eight of the last 15 cuts in all Major competitions!
However, Woods thrives on people writing him off. Take his Masters victory last year, for example. After four major back surgeries and multiple other operations, nobody gave him a chance at Augusta, but still he fought hard and won.
You never know when it comes to Tiger, but his performance, later this month, at the Zozo Championship, should give us a better indication if Woods really can defend his Masters title.