The Loop

Sirak: Woods Heads to the Tee Needing a Good One

April 11, 2008

AUGUSTA, Ga. -â¿¿ By the time Tiger Woods teed off at 1:56 on Friday he was already eight strokes behind Masters leader Trevor Immelman, there were 19 players between him and the top spot and the wind, mild all morning, was whipping the flags on top of the scoreboard along the first fairway. If this Grand Slam dream is not to die in the first major of the season, Woods has a lot of work to get done in the second round at Augusta National.

Woods spent much of his pre-round preparation time Friday on the practice green, much of it piling up frustration. Four consecutive times he putted the same eight-foot putt--all misses. He moved to the other side of the hole and tried two more from the same distance. Misses again. After rolling a few lag putts, clearly searching for feel, he returned to the eight-footers without much more success, missing three of four.

The intensity on Woods' face, the concentration in his eyes, was riveting. Something was amiss, he knew it and he was looking for an answer. Augusta National is all about the short stick and if he doesn't find some magic with his putter, this afternoon could be a frustrating one.

Woods took a deep breath and let it go with a cleansing sigh. He exchanged a wordless look with his caddie Steve Williams, who was wearing the white jumpsuit with the number 47 on it. Woods slapped Henrik Stenson (in the group behind Woods) on the back and headed for the first tee with the feeling very much in the air that he needs a round in the 60s today.

--Ron Sirak