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The Masters Week:Tues

Imagine Golf Club's Tom Cates on why Tiger won't practice with Rory

Posted Apr 07, 2009 by Tom Cates

augusta 2

So Tiger doesn't want to play a practise round with Rory McIlroy?  The word is that there is such a media circus surrounding the young teenager, it would only get in the way of the world number 1's preparations.  How I chuckled! 

And yet it makes perfect sense.  Woods may be the biggest sporting draw on the planet and used to creating something of a scene wherevever he goes, but the fact is that if he and Rory teed it up anytime before the tournament got underway there would be thousands following and ,yes, Tiger's preparations could be disrupted.  And let's not forget Tiger is here for one reason, and one reason only, to win.

He hasn't played a great deal of golf in the last eight months and he might just feel that he doesn’t need any distractions if he is to finish first.  And it isn't going to be easy for the world number 1.  Yes, he did win at Bay Hill but it wasn't easy, and he needed Sean O'Hair to get sidetracked by the Tiger show on the final day and throw away a five shot lead and for Tiger himself to hole a magnificent 15 footer on the 72nd hole for birdie.

This week at Augusta National I don’t think Tiger will find it quite so easy to overhaul a five shot final round deficit.  The field, for one, is much, much stronger and it is highly likely there'll be more than one player in between him and the lead.
On the flip side, there's no one better in the world at clinching victory.  He never stops competing and he loves winning The Masters.  His record at Augusta is absolutely sensational.  A winner in 1997, 2001, 2002 and 2005, he also has two 2nd place finishes in 2007 and 2008 and one 3rd in 2006!  So you could say he is due a return to the winners circle.  His worst result, as a professional came in 2004 when he finished in a tie for 22nd.
The problem as I see it for Woods is the fact that so many of his rivals have shown they are in good form or close to it.  Phil Mickelson has won twice on tour this year and is desperate to add to his two victories achieved in 2004 and 2006.

Padraig Harrington may not have a tournament victory to his name in 2009 but he has won the last two majors and spends his time gearing up to the big four.  He has three top ten finishes to his name at the event including a tie for 5th last year.  And one thing we know for sure is that the Irishman won’t be backing down over the final nine holes if he is in with a shout.

It isn't going to be easy for the world number 1 and it promises to be a thrilling journey if he is to close the gap on Jack's record of 6 Masters victories and 18 overall majors.

-Tom Cates

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