Bold, if foolhardy, Masters decision by Tiger

Fri Apr 3, 2015 11:34pm EDT
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By Mark Lamport-Stokes

(Reuters) - Tiger Woods' decision to return to competition at next week's Masters after a two-month break is unquestionably a bold one, but it could very well end up being foolhardy.

The former world number one has been woefully out of form in his only two tournament appearances this year and, though he feels he is now ready to compete again, he will face a daunting test on the fast, sloping greens at Augusta National.

Yes, Woods is a four-times champion at the Masters and he knows the famed par-72 course as well as anyone else in the field, so he will certainly enjoy a huge comfort factor on his return to the year's opening major.

On the downside, though, his short game has been pathetic in his last two competitive starts, prompting several pundits to say he is suffering from the chipping 'yips'.

If Woods does indeed have the yips, which is an involuntary movement of the muscles, then Augusta National would be one of the most challenging venues for him to make a PGA Tour comeback.

In January, Woods played in only his second event in five months -- at the Phoenix Open -- after enduring back problems for much of last year.

What followed shocked the golfing world as a player once revered for his sublime short game struggled badly with his chipping, hitting shots fat or thin while occasionally resorting to a putter or a bump-and-run approach instead.

He ended up posting the highest score of his professional career, an 11-over-par 82, to miss the cut by nine shots at the Phoenix Open, then withdrew from the Farmers Insurance Open the following week after 11 holes because of tightness in his back.   Continued...

Tiger Woods of the U.S. hits his approach shot on the ninth fairway during the first round of the 2014 PGA Championship at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Kentucky, August 7, 2014.  REUTERS/Brian Snyder