Tiger defies odds with resurgence in his short game

Sat Apr 11, 2015 2:54pm EDT
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By Mark Lamport-Stokes

AUGUSTA, Georgia (Reuters) - Totally overshadowed by the brilliant play of American young gun Jordan Spieth at this week's Masters has been the remarkable resurgence to form by Tiger Woods.

While Spieth has electrified the fans at Augusta National with a record-breaking total of 14-under-par 130 after 36 holes, Woods has resurrected a short game that just two months ago left many experts convinced he is suffering from the "chipping yips".

Though the 14-times major champion has been a little erratic off the tee in the first two rounds and has occasionally struggled with the pace of the greens, his short game has been rock solid as he carded scores of one-over 73 and 69.

"The completeness of Tiger Woods' game, especially around the greens, is perhaps one of the biggest surprises that I've seen in golf," said Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee.

"The pitching has been spot on. It hasn't been average, it hasn't been a little bit better than what we were expecting ... when you consider where he came from and where he is now, it is nothing short of miraculous."

The former world number one worked hard on retooling his swing while taking a two-month break from the PGA Tour. His short game has so far looked surprisingly sharp.

"He seems like in a really good place mentally and physically," said Woods' long-time friend Mark O'Meara, the 1998 Masters champion who played with Woods in practice earlier this week.

"I see more of the old Tiger Woods in my opinion. His pitching Monday and Tuesday, I didn't see any inclination of a guy that's struggling around the greens. What was going on before, I'm not sure.   Continued...

Tiger Woods of the U.S. hits a drive off the second tee during third round play of the Masters golf tournament at the Augusta National Golf Course in Augusta, Georgia April 11, 2015. REUTERS/Mark Blinch