Is Tiger Woods back?

Tiger Woods strolled to a four-stroke win at Torrey Pines in his first PGA Tour start of 2013.

While some criticized his finish -- Woods had an eight-shot lead at one point but made a double bogey and two bogeys down the stretch as play slowed to a crawl -- the victory could be a good omen.

In all four of the years he has won the Masters Tournament, he also won on the PGA Tour leading into Augusta.

In 1997, he won the season-opening Mercedes Championships. In 2001, when he was in the midst of completing his Tiger Slam, he won at Bay Hill and The Players Championship before Augusta.

In 2002, Tiger won again at Bay Hill before winning the green jacket for the second consecutive year. In 2005, he won at Torrey Pines and Doral.

Of course, Woods has only been shut out of the winner's circle coming into Augusta twice in his professional career, in 1998 and 2011. You can't count 2010 because Woods made his season debut at the Masters that year.

The flip side is that Woods has failed nine times to win the Masters after showing early-season promise.

The most baffling performance might have come a year ago, when Woods broke a lengthy drought on the PGA Tour with his win at Bay Hill two weeks before the Masters.

With most experts expecting a fifth green jacket, Woods instead failed to break par in any of the four rounds. He tied for 40th. Woods did go on to win two more times in 2012, but not in majors.

I say this year will be different as he gets at least one major and continues his quest to break Jack Nicklaus's record. Right now, Woods trails Nicklaus by four.

"I've driven the ball well, I've hit my irons well, and I've chipped and putted well," Woods said at Torrey Pines.

To me, the key part of that quote was that Woods claims to be chipping and putting well. If he starts putting like he used to, and getting it up and down from all over the place, it could be bad news for his colleagues.

We'll find out in a couple of months.




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