What Does Tiger Need To Do To Compete At Augusta?

Isn’t it strange to think that Tiger Woods, the defending Masters Champion, goes into this year’s event having played in only two events in this short, seven-event, 2021 season?

And clearly, his performance in those two events was not at all the Tiger we know and adore.

  • US Open – Missed CUT
  • Zozo Championship – Tied 72nd in a limited, 76-player field.

Given this brief but disappointing record, what can we expect from the defending Masters Champ? Let’s compare Tiger’s Zozo performance to the Top-3 finishers – all three of whom will be playing against him in Augusta.

  1. Patrick Cantlay – Won the Zozo by one stroke over
  2. Justin Thomas – Tied for 2nd
  3. Jon Rahm – Tied for 2nd

One could argue that Tiger had nearly as much of a home course advantage at Sherwood Country Club as he does at the Masters. He has played in 12 events at Sherwood vs. approximately 25 Masters. Coincidentally, Tiger has won five times at both.

By comparison, Messers Thomas and Rahm are fledglings on the Sherwood links. Since I am talking about rust, I decided that it was only fair to omit Tiger’s first round 76 from my analysis as it was clearly part of shaking off a good part of his rust.

As you can see from the Strokes Gained recap below, Tiger gave up 3.8 strokes per round to the top-3 (2.5 Tee to Green and 1.3 Putting). His biggest challenge will be in his Tee to Green game – predominantly Driving and Approach accuracy.

While the driving may be more forgiving at Augusta, approach accuracy is very demanding. Tiger’s approach accuracy has long been one of his strengths.

Clearly, Tiger has a steep hill to climb in Augusta, but let’s bear a few factors in mind:

  1. Augusta really is his home field. The course, and his extraordinary experience on it, have to provide a tremendous advantage.
  2. Who thought that he could win in 2019?
  3. IT’s TIGER!

I, for one, will be rooting for him like never before.

Peter Sanders is the President and a founding partner of ShotByShot.com, a unique strokes gained analysis program that helps golfers determine the precise strengths and weaknesses of each facet of their golf game, the system SwingU uses for its Versus product.

Peter has worked with PGA Tour players and major champions such as Zach Johnson, Lucas Glover, Smylie Kaufman, Zack Sucher, Sepp Straka, Dylan Frittelli and Michael Thompson to analyze and interpret their data for game improvement. 

Read more from Peter on his Niblicks of Truth blog at ShotByShot.com.