Tiger WoodsApril 6, 2015

What yips? Tiger Woods arrives at Augusta, puts short game to immediate test

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- For a guy with the yips, Tiger Woods just announced to the world that he's not afraid to show off his short game. Showing up at Augusta National's tournament practice area around 3:40 ET, Woods briefly stopped to talk to Mike Weir about the Canadian's elbow issues, them marched boldly to the short game practice area.

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Knowing all eyes at the range were on his wedge practice and probably aware there was an audience on Golf Channel's "Live From" hoping to see if he's cured the short game yips, Woods took a green bag of balls from caddie Joe LaCava, put on headphones, appeared to dance to the music at one point and went straight to work hitting the same lofted wedges that have given him fits.

Talk about a bold statement.

While it's hardly unusual for a professional golfer to warm up hitting wedges, any yipper can tell you that playing the shot that gives you trouble, and doing it in front of a crowd, ranks up there in the Fun Department with root canals and prostate exams.

More curious was his decision to listen to music while warming up. Was it the soothing voice of a guru? Or simply a nod to new endorsee Sol Republic, which Woods signed with in January.

After hitting no flubs and looking crisp with his shots, Woods moved to the main tee, where swing consultant Chris Como awkwardly waited while former instructor Sean Foley and Woods joked around. Eventually, Woods began moving through the bag and headed for the first tee for a late nine at Augusta National.

If the range swagger was a statement, the body language on course all but spilled over the top. Woods blew his first tee shot into his usual spot on the 9th fairway, where Woods also gets his mail when he's in Augusta. Anyway, Woods then hit his approach to six feet and he quickly knocked in a birdie as if it was a mere afterthought. He then took two wedges and two balls, and the crowd grew eerily quiet. But Woods moved around the diabolical first green hitting all manner of shots, showing no signs of distress.

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A few in the gallery of 500 or so patrons gasped at his sleek physique, but otherwise welcomed him back with various shout-outs. Playing partner O'Meara eventually ran out of putts to try on a green he's seen plenty, turning to watch the downright jovial Woods chip before moving to the putter. After a few long putts, Woods scooped up his ball with the back cavity of his putter and twirled it over his head, keeping the ball in the putter the entire time.

He stopped short of Moonwalking off the first green.

Almost like old times.

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