On his last day of practice before Thursday’s first round of the Masters, Tiger Woods’ routine included a 6:45 a.m. arrival at the Tournament Practice Facility, a session on the main putting green and nine holes of practice with Keegan Bradley and Fred Couples.
Theirs was the second group out on Wednesday after the threesome of Bubba Watson, Rickie Fowler and Scott Piercy. Woods’ mother, Kultida, followed her son for a few holes as he played on the second nine. He has been bothered by the pollen that has dusted Augusta National with its yellow, powdery composition.
Woods, who did not speak with the media Wednesday, concluded his pre-Masters preparation by playing a total of 50 holes in practice rounds with 18 on Sunday, 14 on Monday, nine on Tuesday and nine on Wednesday.
One of his closest advisors, who did not want to be named, said he has bold, high hopes for Woods: “I’d be surprised if he doesn’t win.”
The advisor pointed to Woods’ seemingly more relaxed and simplified approach.
“More than the physical and swing-wise, he’s just not working on anything. He’s not worried about his swing, he’s worried about the score. He’s calm. The last couple of years here, he was grinding with Sean [Foley] on the driving range. Well, today, Sean watched him hit balls for 30 minutes and didn’t say anything. Tiger said, ‘Sean, set me up one time, make me square.’ One tip. That’s the difference between this year and last. It’s kind of like studying for a test he already knows the answers for. It’s good to see.”
Mark Steinberg, Woods’ agent at Excel Sports Management, believes Woods’ balanced approach to his life and his sport has been beneficial.
“And I don’t think you guys can overstate health,” Steinberg said. “It’s impossible to understand how much pain he’s been in for a long time—and trying to integrate a swing change at the same time.”
Woods, a four-time Masters champion, has not won the Tournament since 2005. He has not won a major championship since he prevailed at the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines in 2008 on a broken leg. He will be paired with Luke Donald and Scott Piercy the first two rounds this week. For Woods, the practice ends and the examination begins when they tees off Thursday at 10:45 a.m.