Tiger Woods begins quest for Masters win No. 5
Tiger Woods practiced early Monday morning as he continued preparations to pursue a fifth Masters title.
After walking the first nine late Sunday afternoon with a wedge and caddie Joe LaCava, the 43-year-old Woods played the second nine Monday, teeing off at 8 a.m. with 1992 champion Fred Couples and Justin Thomas, ranked fifth in the world.
Photos: Tiger's Monday Masters Practice
Patrons lined the fairways at Augusta National Golf Club hoping for a glimpse at Woods, who spent most of his energy around the green, chipping and pitching to the typical hole locations. Woods, a 14-time major champion, and his playing partners joined the fun at the par-3 No. 16 by skipping balls across the pond, to the patrons’ delight.
Woods is the career stroke average leader at Augusta (70.93) among golfers who have played at least 50 rounds. He’s broken par in 44 of 82 rounds and has never missed the cut as a professional.
Still, it’s been 14 years since his last green jacket-winning performance and nearly 11 years since he won a major championship. Woods gave the golf world hope in September when he won the season-ending Tour Championship but his results this season have been solid rather than spectacular. He’s finished between 10th and 30th in his four stroke play events. The highlight thus far is defeating Rory McIlroy in the round of 16 at the WGC Match Play last month.
Following the nine holes, Woods, dressed in gray slacks, a tropical indigo shirt, white shoes and a cap, emerged on the far right side of the practice area. He enjoyed a full practice session, ending with a series of drivers. In between shots, he chatted with 2000 Masters champion Vijay Singh, admiring the towering drives produced by the 56-year-old.
Later, Woods chatted with Patrick Reed, the defending champion and his Ryder Cup partner last fall when the United States lost to Europe in France.
Photos: Masters Monday Practice Round
Woods, 81st in the FedEx Cup standings in five starts, spent nearly an hour chipping, pitching and blasting out of bunkers in the short game area. He shared laughs with former coach Butch Harmon and then Jason Day, appearing loose and relaxed.
After rolling putts for 10 or 15 minutes, he motioned to LaCava to depart. Woods stopped to sign autographs for kids for five minutes before he and his caddie rode away in a golf cart.
Woods tied for 32nd at Augusta last year, at 1-over 289. He’s making his fifth Masters start since 2012 and has finished outside the top 15 in three of his last four. Jack Nicklaus is the oldest player to win the Masters, in 1986 at age 46.