If you can remember the demolition that Tiger Woods put on the field at the 1997 Masters, when he won by a mind-boggling 12 strokes, his work on Augusta’s back nine was incredible. His scores were 30, 32, 33, 33 – or 16-under par.
Yes, he ate up the par 5s, but he didn’t have issues anywhere.
Pretty much since then, he’s continued to master the inward holes, although not to the degree that made him utterly unbeatable in 1997.
Still, from 1997-2011, a period of 15 Masters, Woods was under par for the back nine for the tournament all but one time, in 2000 when he was 3-over.
For the last two years, however, it has been a bit strange. Woods was 4-over on the back last year and just 1-under this time around. True, the two-stroke penalty is factored into that; still, he hasn’t looked like a guy who steps to the 10th tee with a look that says, “time to shoot 33.”
For those first 15 years, again 1997-2011, Woods posted a sub-par back nine on 35 of his 60 chances, or 58 percent. He’s done so just twice in eight back-nine trips the last two years, or 25 percent.
Hard to believe, but if you go back to the third round of the 2011 Masters, Woods failed to break par on eight consecutive trips over the back – Rounds 3 and 4 in 2011, all four times in 2012, and Rounds 1 and 2 this time.
When he absorbed the two-stroke penalty in Round 2 this year, it marked the first time in his Masters career that he needed 40 strokes to play the back.