Tiger Woods, because of one win, his first win in over two years, was immoderately burdened with the pressure of being the favorite for the 2012 Masters Championship. That’s a ratings and advertising trick, but as his 38th ranking after 3 days shows us, he’s far from the player everybody, mostly those who run the sport, want to see.
Consistent dominance has a few things to rely on. The player himself – Skills and mental condition. Woods, despite showing improvement in his long game and looking more comfortable with his new swing prior to the Masters, is still not in the place he was in the previous decade. A place in which just his presence was enough to scare off half the competition, and just with his confidence in himself looked invincible.
It’s not the current situation. And it’s not the tantrum and kicking golf clubs. It’s great for a sport that needs that kind of spark from time to time, especially from its marquee player. If Woods can’t get anywhere near the leading bunch, then let him at least give people a reason to watch by kicking clubs and setting his mouth loose. He cared, and he hurts about not being able to be perfect, be great like everyone expected him to be so soon.
But the field is different right now. He may know Augusta better than anyone, but he’s not good enough to concentrate on that. He’s concentrating on what’s wrong, but can’t seem to shake it off. Meanwhile, Phil Mickelson and Peter Hanson are making most of the impression, with Bubba Watson and Louis Oosthuizen looking for someone to mess up.
Other favorites? Luke Donald is doing terribly, and so is Rory McIlroy. No need for a meltdown. He’s just playing badly, just like Tiger Woods. Lee Westwood is tied for six after three days with a -4, but that won’t be enough to somehow come up with a magical win. Mickelson looks too good, in a very aggressive mindset, to slip up and let go of the top two spots. It’s impossible to know with Hanson, who has never finished above 7th in a Major before.
For Woods, it’s about having a quiet fourth day. Quiet in his mind, most of all. He looked like he’s lost his confidence, at least for this tournament. Maybe a much more impressive field than what he had to face at the Arnold Palmer invitational lessened his hopes and beliefs in actually pulling off this one. Woods, who hasn’t won a major since 2008, will have to wait until the US Open to try and quiet the criticism around him and mostly, inside of him.