Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Tiger's Big Test: Tee Shots at Stadium Course; Short Game at Augusta Was Improved; His Driver Will Be Important Now

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Tiger's Big Test: Tee Shots at Stadium Course; Short Game at Augusta Was Improved; His Driver Will Be Important Now

Article excerpt

Byline: Garry Smits

Tiger Woods played for the first time in eight weeks at the Masters in April, tying for 17th after rising as high as fifth on the weekend leaderboard.

But will the progress he showed at Augusta National translate to the TPC Sawgrass Players Stadium Course?

Woods seemingly repaired a badly wounded short game that resulted in some horrendous shots in his first two starts of the 2014-15 season. The sight of Woods skulling chips over greens or fluffing them short was alarming for the former world No. 1 who has always counted on a short game that was ranked among the best in history.

Woods missed the cut at the Waste Management Open at the TPC Scottsdale after an 82, his worst round as a professional. He then withdrew in the first round at the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines.

Woods went back to work at his home in Jupiter and at the Medalist Club, where he is a member, and said he hit thousands of short-game shots.

"No one knows how hard I worked," he said at the Masters.

The work resulted in a strong performance around the greens at Augusta. But during the Masters, he also continued to have problems off the tee. Woods hit 30 of 56 fairways (.536) and was tied for 51st among the 55 players who made the cut in driving accuracy.

In the final round, Woods missed his first nine fairways (he didn't hit one until the 13th hole) and hit only two all day.

The good news about that is Augusta's fairways are generously wide, even with the addition of a second cut. Most of the holes at the course also offer a player good chances to hit recovery shots out of the pine trees. Driving accuracy is not the most important statistic at Augusta and winner Jordan Spieth tied for 20th in hitting fairways.

That won't be the case at the Stadium Course. While some holes enable players to hit recovery shots from trees (both sides of the second fairway, the right side at No. 6, the left side at No. 9, the right at Nos. 10 and 11, the left at Nos. 15 and 16 and the right at No. …

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