Does Tiger Woods believe he can win? Just watch him miss putts.
AUGUSTA, Ga. — Tiger Woods was frustrated. But not with his leg.
On Tuesday at Augusta National, where Woods still remains a “game-time decision” for this week’s Masters, he was asked by a reporter whether he believed he could win. He answered in two words: “I do.” Just over 13 months ago, the 15-time major champion suffered multiple injuries to his right leg in a car crash.
“Well, I love competing, and I feel like if I can still compete at the highest level, I’m going to, and if I feel like I can still win, I’m going to play,” Woods said. “But if I feel like I can’t, then you won’t see me out here. You guys know me better than that.
“I don’t show up to an event unless I think I can win it. So that’s the attitude I’ve had. There will be a day when it won’t happen, and I’ll know when that is.”
Don’t believe him? We take you to the practice green near the 10th tee at Augusta, where Woods was rapping putts about three hours before his press conference. How else to explain what about 50 or so patrons watched other than, yes, he’s here for green jacket No. 6.
Woods putted from 6 feet away. He missed to the right. He winced.
Woods hit the putt again. He missed to the left. He winced and lowered his head.
On the third attempt, he made it and moved on.
Pain on a missed 6-footer on a practice green during a practice round. What does that tell you?
For one, if he didn’t believe he could win, then the miss wouldn’t matter; he’d just move on. And for you, no, you shouldn’t necessarily treat a practice putt like it’s for the Masters. But you shouldn’t just dust the putter by the ball, either. Woods was putting with a purpose. Earlier, Rory McIlroy treated his time on the green in much the same way — on a 15-footer, he walked about 8 feet forward, measured the slope with his feet, looked at the break behind the ball and also agonized over a miss.
Woods, too, was disciplined in an earlier drill. He placed two tees just over the width of a putter ahead apart, fastened another tee about 2 feet behind those tees and hit — and dropped — 5-foot putts over and over again. The feedback was immediate.
So was his wincing.
He’s playing to win.