Tiger Woods is in vintage form, driving the ball further than ever and fully capable of winning next month’s U.S. Masters, according to two practice partners.
Woods announced last week he would make his comeback at the Masters from April 8-11 after an indefinite break from golf to try to save his marriage following revelations of repeated infidelities.
The world number one practiced on Monday at Augusta National Golf Club, the site of next month’s Masters, according to the Golf Channel and ESPN.
American John Cook, who has 11 PGA Tour wins, said he had played rounds with Woods on Thursday and Friday and hit balls with him on Sunday.
Asked, after play at the Tavistock Cup at Isleworth where he would place Woods in the Masters on the basis of his form, Cook told reporters: “From what I’ve seen of the last three days of ball striking, first.
“I don’t see anyone that hits the ball like he does. We all know that that’s not the whole battle, there are a lot of other issues there for him, but as far as ball-striking goes, if he takes that up there, it’s vintage,” he added.
“Vintage, I’d be hard pressed to see anyone beat him, that being said, you have to go up to the first green and mark your ball and you have to finish out and sign your name at the end of the day, that’s a whole different deal.
“I’d be hard pressed to see anyone beat him but it will be his first rounds of golf for five months.”
Arjun Atwal, who said he had played almost every day last week with Woods, said he was driving the ball even further than he had in his last competitive appearance in November.
“He is hitting it just fine —he is hitting it longer than before, there is no doubt and he feels like he is not totally ready but I have seen him win with what he has right now, plenty of times,” Atwal told reporters.
“I think he is ready but you know him, until he has every aspect right he isn’t going to go out there.” Both Cook and Atwal said that Woods was relaxed on the course, in contrast to the tense figure who appeared in television interviews on Sunday. “He’s very mellow now, he’s very chilled out. I don’t even ask him, about the issue. You can see that he is more at peace right now,” they said.