The crafty tactic that Tiger Woods won’t be able to apply at this year’s Masters

Tiger Woods

Tiger Woods hits a shot on the 10th hole at Sherwood Country Club on Sunday.

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Tiger Woods has won the Masters five times. 

He couldn’t have done it without the fans, aka patrons. 

Not so much the “I-couldn’t-have-done-it-without-the-fans” kind of way. Though he is certainly grateful there, too. This story isn’t meant to be sappy. 

The fan-to-the-left-of-the-7th-pin kind of way. And the fan-to-the-right-of-the-7th-pin kind of way. If they have been among the few hundred people who have formed the near-half circles behind some of the greens at Augusta National Golf Club, they have helped Woods win. 

As long as they stayed still for a few short seconds.

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“I was having lunch with a couple guys, and we were talking about some of the shots,” Woods said Sunday after his final round at the Zozo Championship. “On 7, you aim at one spectator, and you’re going to cut it to another, which will leave you, you know, either left of this flag or right of that flag. 

“That’s what you — that’s what I’ve done in the past.”

He’s not entirely sure what he’ll do in the present. 

The fans behind the greens won’t be there. No patrons will be. They’re not allowed at Augusta National this year due to the coronavirus pandemic. Woods has played in 22 Masters. That’s 86 tournament rounds. But this year’s edition will be different. And not just because it has been moved from its traditional April start to November, also due to the pandemic.

He’ll have to do it alone. 

“There’s going to be no background, no roars,” Woods said. “Sometimes we’ve been on the putting green there before we tee off, and you hear roars down there 12 and 13 — they reverberate all the way up to the clubhouse, and there’s going to be nothing. So that’s one of the things that I’ve been thinking about for the last few weeks is what is that going to be like.

“I’ve played practice rounds before there, and, you know, before tournament week, and it is — it’s odd because tournament week, especially there, the practice rounds, there’s more people in practice rounds there than tournament play. So it’s going to be odd in that sense, but it’s still the Masters. That’s still the best players in the world, you still have the traditions, and it’s just we’re not going to have the roars.”

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There might actually be some left from last year. 

Woods won by a stroke, his first major title since 2008 and 15th overall. Since then, he won last year’s Zozo Championship, he captained and played on the winning Presidents Cup team, then the pandemic hit. He’s played sparingly since. At Sherwood, he shot rounds of 76, 66, 71 and 74, falling short in his Zozo defense, and he’s unsure if he’ll play again before the Masters. 

Of course, not everything is different. Though the fans might not be there this year, something else still will be. 

“Well, one, I know the golf course, so it’s not a new golf course, and maybe a little bit longer and a little bit more softer than we’ve probably experienced, but you just never know,” Woods said. “This time of year, it could be in the 70s, it could be in the 30s, who knows there.

“I know the layout.”

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Nick Piastowski

Golf.com Editor