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Tiger´s Masters timeline: Can Woods rediscover his best Augusta form?

22 martie 2018 18:57

Tiger Woods is set to return to the Masters this year for the first time since 2015, and he's even found himself among the favourites.

Back injuries have kept Woods away from Augusta National in recent seasons, but the four-time Masters champion is healthy, in form and hoping to earn his first green jacket since 2005. 

Woods' latest return to competitive golf has been a success, and top-five finishes at the Valspar Championship and Arnold Palmer Invitational have the golf world buzzing.

Before he strolls to the first tee in Georgia on April 5, here's a look at Tiger Woods' storied history at the Masters…

 

1995: The Introduction

Woods first travelled down Magnolia Lane to compete in the Masters in 1995 at the tender age of 19, and this year might bring out the most butterflies he's had at Augusta National since that emotional debut. 

Woods finished tied for 41st and surprised many observers by making the cut as a teenager.

 

1997: "A win for the ages"

Not only did Woods earn his first Masters win in 1997, he did so historically, becoming the youngest player and first African-American to win the tournament. 

He also set a scoring record, finishing at 18 under, 12 shots ahead of runner-up Tom Kite. 

After winning, Woods wrapped around his father in an iconic bear hug.

This win introduced Woods to the world as a possible dominant force. He hit tee shots in spots no one had ever seen before, while taking chances few other players on Tour could even think about trying.

 

2001: The Tiger Slam

Fresh off three successive major championship wins, Woods entered the 2001 Masters with a chance to make history. 

With consecutive wins at the U.S. Open, Open Championship and PGA Championship already secured, Woods was ready to complete the 'Tiger Slam' — an abridged version of the grand slam (winning all four majors in a year). 

Woods not only accomplished that feat in 2001, he blitzed the field, finishing 16 under for the tournament while beating David Duval by two shots. 

He then followed it up with his third Masters win in 2002. 

While not a normal grand slam, Woods' own version of the feat proved he could dominate all four majors.

 

2005: The Chip Shot

"In your life?!" 

The famous call from Verne Lundquist on the par-three 16th, when Woods' birdie chip rolled down the slope and sat on the lip of the cup for a few seconds before finally dropping is one of the most recognizable moments of commentary in the sport's modern history.

"The shadows were coming down through the trees, and there was a glimmer of light," Woods said in 2015 when talking about the shot. 

"As I was reading it, I was thinking that if my ball hits that light and then starts to move to the right, I've got a good chance. So that's all I was focused on, hitting that piece of light between the two tree shadows. And I pulled it off."

The iconic chip shot helped Woods get into a playoff with Chris DiMarco, and ultimately win his fourth Masters. He has not succeeded at the famed tournament since.

However, it hasn't been all doom and gloom for Woods since his last Masters win. 

Starting in 2006, Woods went on a run of six straight top-six finishes without a win. 

He finished runner up in 2007 and 2008 and then finished tied for fourth in 2010 and 2011. 

Since 2012, Woods has just one top-15 finish at the Masters (T4 in 2013).

 

2018: The Return

Masters week had been targeted as Tiger Woods' true return to golf this year, but the 14-time major champion has already demonstrated his capacity to compete among the new generation of Tour professionals. 

Few athletes in the world can endure as much as Woods has over the last 10 years and still be considered a favourite at his or her sport's most cherished event.

Woods has almost climbed back inside the top 100 in the world rankings after drifting into obscurity before playing the Hero World Challenge in December. 

If he can contend at the Masters it would be one of the greatest sports stories of the year.

"No one has ever seen an athlete like him. No one has ever seen a golfer like him, that's for sure," Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee said in an exclusive interview with Omnisport. 

"No one has seen an athlete change their game, change the methods they used to dominate. It's intriguing, it's compelling, it's baffling. Everyone loves a good comeback story."

"I think Tiger will be in the mix [at this year's Masters]. "He has the speed, he has the health and he has the ability to go right back to [Augusta] and find the magic he once found there."

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