Tiger is the one to watch at Augusta – now more than ever

Golf News

The Masters should be all about Jordan Spieth, Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy – but the sentimental contender is Tiger Woods

King James II was deposed in 1688. For the next 13 years until his death, the last Roman Catholic monarch to rule over England, Scotland and Ireland lived in exile in France.

His Jacobite supporters never lost hope the King Across the Water would one day return to reclaim the throne that was his divine right.

Incredibly, it is also 13 years since Tiger Woods won his fourth and most recent Green Jacket, courtesy of that chip-in at 16 that helped him into a play-off against Chris DiMarco.

Rarely in the last near-decade since the beginning of his decline when his extra-marital indiscretions first came to light in 2009 has Woods approached the opening major of the year with such genuine cause for optimism.

His loyal followers would have you believe that a fifth Augusta win, and a 15th major title, are a very real possibility, especially since his latest comeback acquired further layers of credibility from a 12th-placed finish in the Honda Classic, a tied-2nd at the Valspar and a share for 5th at Bay Hill.

Woods is injury-free for the first time in years and moving freely. To this untrained eye at least, the swing appears to be calmer and less violent.

Certainly, he has regained power from the tee, if not always accuracy. Not that a lack of driving precision has stopped him contending for and winning majors in the past.

Over the past decade, Wood has struggled to be competitive at each of the other three majors. yet his form has rarely dipped at Augusta. He has finished fourth here three times in the past six instalments.

It is worth pausing to dwell on his overall record in the Masters, which shows that he has never missed the cut as a pro and only once finished outside the top 25.

Frankly, his game right now bears no relation to what he has brought to Georgia in a few recent years and yet even then he found it possible to compete.

We are watching, depending on your persuasion, either the greatest or second-greatest golfer of all time.

Against all the odds, bearing in mind that it is little more than a year since he thought he might never play again, the 42-year- old has dragged himself back from the brink. This could be the culmination to the greatest sports story every told.

Better make sure we’re all watching then, hadn’t we?

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