Point/counterpoint: Who will win the Masters? Tiger Woods, or the field?

BY DI STAFF | APRIL 09, 2013 5:00 AM

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Tiger Woods

I don’t care about the 93 other players competing at Augusta National this weekend — Tiger Woods is going to beat all of them.

Tiger is famous for declaring his desire to win every tournament that he enters. He doesn’t enter one he doesn’t think he can win. He doesn’t waste his time with smaller tournaments with lesser fields — he plays in the big ones with top-flight competition.

Thus far, he’s won 60 percent of the tournaments he’s entered. Granted, he’s only competed five times this year, but his three victories are a PGA Tour best. In fact, he’s the only player to win multiple events this year.

After winning the Arnold Palmer Invitational on March 21, Tiger returned to a familiar spot — No. 1 in the Official World Golf rankings. Woods has 625 weeks at the top position — the most all-time — which figures to be about 12 years of being the best in the world, nearly a third of his life.

If Tiger has a lead after Saturday, you may as well just call off the final round, because when he has a lead, it’s his for good. 

Woods is 52-4 when he has at least a share of the lead after three rounds, and he’s 41-2 when he has the outright lead. In every one of his 14 Major victories, this has been the case. His only loss in a major after going in the final day with a lead was the 2009 PGA Championship.

Tiger has not only gotten control of his personal life but also his putting. Woods has always been a phenomenal ball-striker, but when his putting is on, as it is now, there’s no stopping him. In his last eight rounds, Tiger has made 35 putts of 8 feet or longer, a facet of his game that was missing a few years ago.

Tiger has recently said his goal is still to win what would be a record of 20 Majors, which five years ago looked impossible with his stagnant 14 major victories. However, with the way Tiger has surged back, it looks like it’s a matter of when and not if. This weekend will be the first step.

— by Kevin Glueck

The Field

If I had been asked this question 10 years ago, I would have taken Tiger Woods without a doubt.

Other golfers feared his fierce competitiveness and ability to close out tournaments. Woods was unlike any other golfer the world had seen. All of that came to a crashing halt when his marital issues became headline news in 2009, causing him to take time away from golf.

Wood’s hasn’t regained his vintage form since word leaked of his cheating scandal. Yes, he’s recently regained the world’s No. 1 ranking by winning three PGA events this year. Let’s not forget that he won three PGA events last year without taking home a Major trophy. Woods also didn’t win a single PGA event in 2010 or 2011. He hasn’t won a Major crown since the 2008 U.S. open. It’s been nearly a five-year major drought for this tamed version of Tiger Woods, which is why I’m picking the field in the 2013 Masters.

The Masters has seen a balanced playing field since the turn of the decade. First off, there are 94 participants in this year’s Masters. Statistically speaking, everyone has a 1.075 percent chance of winning, including Woods. So there’s a 98.925 percent chance that someone other than Woods will win the 2013 Masters.

Nine different players have won the Masters since 2000. Phil Mickelson, along with Woods, has won three green jackets in the same time frame, including two victories after 2005, which marks Woods’ last triumph at Augusta. The hefty lefty has finished in the top 10 at Augusta nine times since the 2002 Masters. Mickelson is a serious contender to bring home another green jacket.

The deep field includes past Major champs like Rory McIlroy, Adam Scott, and Louis Oosthuizen, who are searching for their first Masters title. Don’t count out recent Masters champs such as Angel Cabrera, Zach Johnson, Bubba Watson, and Charl Swartzel. They’re all threats to bring home a victory. The field is too talented and deep to favor one player over the other 93.

— by Dominick White

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