Woods has game tuned for Augusta

Associated Press
Tuesday, March 27

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- Tiger Woods got about five minutes to savor his victory at The Players Championship.

Then the questions shifted from the crystal Players trophy on the table in front of him to the possibility of another green jacket at The Masters in two weeks.

"I figured that," Woods said Monday after holding off Vijay Singh for a one-stroke victory on the Stadium course at the TPC at Sawgrass.

The Masters has been golf's most anticipated tournament since Woods defeated Bob May in a three-hole playoff at the PGA last August for his third straight major triumph. Can Woods make it four in a row?

Woods faces the question from fans, friends and himself almost every day.

"In all honesty, I'm going to treat it just like I do every major," he said. "Just go in there with the same mindset, the same game plan, play as hard as I can, try on every shot, and hopefully, I will have a chance coming down the back nine on Sunday."

Woods, who ended all talk of a slump this year with his second straight triumph, likes his game heading into The Masters.

Woods' remarkable 60-footer for birdie at the 17th on Saturday proved his ability to read breaks and create the right amount of pace on greens.

He said his 90-foot chip for eagle on the second hole Sunday was the kind he was practicing this week with an eye on The Masters. And his timely birdies Monday may have given Woods back the fear factor that some players say was slipping this season.

Woods also showed the patience that's critical to all tournaments, but especially important at Augusta, where low rounds early don't guarantee success.

"He continues to astound and impress," PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said. "Some of the things he did here will add to his legend."

Imagine what a victory at Augusta would do.

"I don't know how plainer I can say it," Fred Couples said this week. "It would be the Grand Slam."

Woods knows his golf history. He always considered Grand Slam to be winning all four -- The Masters, U.S. Open, British Open and PGA -- in one year.

"But looking at the trophies that I have on my mantle, three are lined up," he said. "Put another one on there, it looks pretty good."