Though the 2019 Masters golf tournament starts Thursday in Augusta, Georgia, the majority of the news surrounding the annual event seems to be all about just one player of the 87 golfers in the field.
Tiger hasn’t won one of the four golf majors since the 2008 US Open that he won in a playoff with Rocco Mediate.
Yes, the same Tiger Woods who has been in the headlines for the past ten years for any number of personal issues and serious physical injuries. Tiger is now 43 years old, feeling and playing much better, and the sports media is back at it again in trying to convince golf fans that he is THE favorite again this week at The Masters.
Though Woods’ golf game has begun to round back into shape in the past twelve months after his health (back and knee injuries) nearly ended his golf dreams a few years ago, the Tiger Woods Media frenzy is back more than the golfer’s realistic expectations of winning.
If you had any doubts about the extent that the sports media is driving “Tiger Mania” this week, let’s take a look at some of the incredible number of stories I found when searching the internet about this year’s Masters golf tournament.
Tiger Woods’ 2019 golf statistics:
In his last start ahead of the Masters, he finished in a tie for fifth in the World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play. In four other starts this year, his best finish was a tie for 10th in the WGC-Mexico Championships.
Woods is ranked No. 12 in the official world golf rankings.
Woods is a four-time Masters champion and has 13 top-10 finishes at Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia.
What are the betting odds of Tiger Woods winning the 2019 Masters?
Rory McIlroy 7-1
Dustin Johnson 10-1
Justin Rose 12-1
Tiger Woods 14-1
Justin Thomas 16-1
Jordan Spieth 16-1
Rickie Fowler 16-1
Tommy Fleetwood 20-1
Francesco Molinari 20-1
Brooks Koepka 25-1
Bryson DeChambeau 25-1
Paul Casey 30-1
Phil Mickelson 40-1
One news outlet reported that a Tiger Woods fan has wagered $85,000 on Woods to win this year! The bet, which was made in Nevada, would pay out $1.19 million if (I mean…when) Tiger Woods wins.
Now there’s a true Tiger fan!
Let’s see how the media is covering the Big Cat’s preparations for The Masters (these are all actual media reports)!
Tiger’s week-before-Masters– Woods flew up to Augusta from his seaside Florida compound last Wednesday and played a practice round. Woods began with a three-putt from 25 feet on the first hole. It was his lone blemish on his card as he finished with a 65.
Tiger Sunday – Woods returned to Augusta National on Sunday and walked the front nine with only a putter and wedge in his hands. Woods dropped golf balls and hit shots from 75 yards and then chipped and putted at each green.
However, on Sunday night, the media reported that (gasp) Tiger Woods was the last one on the course at Augusta National. According the non-biased reporter with this information, “We can only hope the same is true in a week” (cough, cough).
Tiger Monday – As Masters week dawned Monday, Woods was first off for a quick nine holes on the back nine with Justin Thomas and Fred Couples joining him.
Tiger Tuesday – Woods played an early-morning practice round on Tuesday before he’s scheduled to meet with the media at 1 p.m. ET.
Tuesday’s Tiger Wardrobe scoop! Word spread last week that Tiger Woods would be sporting retro mock-turtleneck golf shirts at this year’s Masters. Woods confirmed that news Tuesday to the Detroit Free Press during his pre-Masters news conference.
“Well, I thought it was a pretty neat look back in the day,” Woods said with a wry smile. “I was probably in a little bit better shape back in those days. I’ve won events wearing the mock. I’ve always enjoyed wearing them, and you’ll see it on Thursday.”
But wait, there’s more! On the sole of his golf shoes, the people at Nike, with Tiger’s consent, have placed a new-look “praying hands emoji” adorned with a Nike glove and the Augusta National colors. (cough, cough)
Highlights of Tiger’s Tuesday Press Conference:
“I feel like I can win,” said Woods, age 43. “I’ve proven that I can do it. I put myself there with a chance to win the last two major championships of the year. I was right there and just needed to have a couple more things to go my way and not throw away a couple shots here and there, which I was able to do at East Lake.
“I just feel like that I’ve improved a lot over the past 12, 14 months but I’ve more than anything just proven to myself that I can play at this level again. I’ve worked my way back into one of the players that can win events.
“For me to have gotten in the winner’s circle after the years I’ve had, the past few years … I didn’t really know if I would ever get there again and lo and behold I got there.
“I’m still working on it, still trying to get better, still trying to win more events. But I think that winning at East Lake confirmed to me that I could still win again. You have to do it first in order to truly understand that you can do it, and after what I’ve been through, it was a great way to cap off the season.”
“I don’t really need to win (the Masters) again,” Woods said. “(But) I really want to.”
(For those who are keeping score at home, Tiger said the word “I” 19 times in five paragraphs above)
Tiger Wednesday – Though many contestants played in The Masters’ Par-3 contest held on Wednesday afternoon, Tiger Woods did not enter or play in the event.
Tiger’s Thursday first round (remember to be watching for his mock turtleneck – see Tuesday’s Tiger notes):
10:04 a.m. (CDT) — Tiger Woods, China’s Haotong Li, and Spain’s Jon Rahm
The media then asked questions to other PGA Tour players. It must have been something like – “We don’t have any good questions for you, but what do YOU think about TIGER WOODS and his chances to win The Masters this year?”
Three-time Masters champion Phil Mickelson said, “I just wouldn’t rule him out. I’ve seen him do things with a golf ball and perform at a level higher than anything I’ve seen in the game. I just would never rule him out.
“To see him play the way he did with such control at the Tour Championship and compete in the majors the way he did at the British and PGA, I just think that greatness is still in him, and I would never rule him out.’’
US Open Champion Brooks Koepka said, “Taking myself out of [winning this week], I think it would be absolutely incredible to watch’’ Woods win a fifth Masters. “It would be incredible to see,’’ he said. “We all know he’s back. There’s no doubt about that. He can he get it done. With the Open and the PGA, he’s been very close. I wouldn’t be surprised this week if he’s knocking on the door.’’
Then there’s former PGA pro and Golf Channel commentator, Brandel Chamblee, who actually took the time to review Woods’ recent golf stats and tried to explain why he doesn’t think Tiger Woods should be THE favorite to win the 83rd Masters Tournament.
BREAKING NEWS REPORT – Brandel Chamblee has just been banished from the remainder of Golf Channel’s Masters coverage for his obvious error that Tiger Woods might NOT win this year’s Masters!
(OK – I made that one up! Sorry, Brandel!)
I understand that Tiger Woods never asked for this incredible amount of over-the-top media coverage.
However, the overwhelming amount of “All Tiger, All the Time” media hype makes me want to pull that much harder for one of those 86 relatively invisible golfers who dare to compete against Tiger Woods in this year’s Masters field.
Though the other 86 golfers surely must have heard from the media that they DO NOT stand a chance to beat Tiger Woods, they will still (quite bravely, I might add) muster the courage to tee-it up on Thursday…at The Masters!