How Tiger Woods Is Preparing For 2018 Masters After Back-To-Back Top-Five Finishes

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Two months ago it was hard to imagine Tiger Woods recording back-to-back top-five finishes in the run-up to the 2018 Masters.

But here we are.

Fresh off a second-place finish at the Valspar Championship, Woods carded a final round 69 Sunday at the Arnold Palmer Invitational to finish at 10-under-par and in a tie for fifth place. And the 42-year-old has been installed as the favorite (!) to win the green jacket in two weeks, even though he hasn’t recorded a victory since 2013.

Woods won’t tee it up again until he steps on the first tee at Augusta National, as he is not eligible for this week’s WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play and will skip the Shell Houston Open next week as he turns his focus to the pursuit of major No. 15.

“I need to go take a look at it,” Woods said, via Golfweek. “I haven’t putted on bent grass in two years. So this is going to be new to me. Playing on rye like that, overseeded rye, different spins that we’re going to encounter there. I was talking with (caddie Joey LaCava) about that early in the week. I’ll figure out what wedge system I want to use for that week, what bounce system, get used to those bunkers, sand’s very heavy, thick. So just have to do a little bit of work.

The 14-time major champion hasn’t played at Augusta National since 2015, but his success at The Masters is well known. He has won the event four times and recorded 13 top 10 finishes in 18 appearances as a professional. In his last start in 2015, Woods finished tied for 17th place after taking two months off prior to the tournament.

“I’m looking forward to it,” Woods said. “I haven’t really thought that much about it, especially this week (at the Arnold Palmer Invitational). I’ve been grinding and focusing on this week, trying to win this thing. Now the tournament’s over, I’ll start to make some changes for Augusta, what kind of equipment setup I’m going to go with, some things I want to do with my swing.”

Woods’ latest comeback has been more successful than anyone could have imagined. He ranks in the top 15 in strokes gained on approach shots, putting and around the green. He has made four of five cuts this season, and most importantly, his surgically fused back has held up to a number of tests.

The next test comes at a place that famously “Tiger-proofed” itself after Woods’ 1997 Masters performance.

Let the preparation begin.

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