Tiger Woods admits he already has one eye on getting himself “race ready” for the Masters, even as he tries to win an incredible 19th World Golf Championships title.
Woods ended a five-year winless drought by claiming his 80th PGA Tour title in the Tour Championship last year, but has never made any secret of the fact that major titles are his primary target.
The last of the 43-year-old’s 14 majors to date came in the 2008 US Open and although it is 14 years since the last of his four wins at Augusta National, Woods is firmly among the favourites for the green jacket in April.
“Augusta started (being on my radar) probably back in October, November,” Woods said in a pre-tournament press conference ahead of the WGC-Mexico Championship.
“Thinking about shots I would need, clubs I’d be using for the event, what kind of swings I have been struggling with or doing well with, especially off uneven lies and then obviously when you get to that event it’s about trying to get the speed of the greens.
“They like to change them from Wednesday to Thursday and they get a little quicker and harder.
“Last year’s preparation was different and previous years it was non-existent. This year to be able to ramp up a schedule and be able to know what I can do going into the event is a lot more comforting than it has been in previous years because it has been kind of an unknown going into that event.”
Woods missed the Masters for the second year running in 2017 and subsequently underwent spinal fusion surgery in a last-ditch bid to save his career.
The gamble paid off and after a tentative return to action in the Hero World Challenge that December, Woods recorded a win and six other top 10s in 2018, including a tie for sixth in the Open Championship and a runners-up finish in the US PGA.
After playing just 24 events between 2014 and 2017, the biggest problem for Woods is now figuring which event to leave out of his schedule.
“From here on out it’s very complicated,” Woods added. “Next week (Honda Classic) is at home for me, then there’s a tournament that I’ve won eight times (Arnold Palmer Invitational), then another event I’ve won a couple of times (Players Championship) and then the week after is where I had an unbelievable week last year (Valspar Championship).
“It gets very complicated. What I’m trying to figure out is how much to play, how much is too much, how much is not enough and at the end of the day being race ready enough for April.
“That’s one of the reasons why I put in Tampa last year after missing the cut in LA. This year is even more complicated. I feel better but I’ve got four events right there in the state I live in.”