Line: Can the new Tiger Woods win in Augusta National?

AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) The newest, more social, Tiger Woods was just occasionally seen Wednesday as he produced his way around the front 9 of Augusta National in the last tune up for a Masters green coat that suddenly seems very much within reach.

There weren’ t many trips down memory space lane with playing partner Fred Couples and no long conversations using the firefighter from Massachusetts, who needed to look up occasionally at the gray air and wonder what bolt associated with lightning would strike him following as he played alongside the greatest golf player of his time.

It was Woods as he might have been ten years ago, deep in concentration plus fixating so much on the smallest information that he walked off a section from the sixth green to measure simply which spot he needed to property his ball on when perform finally begins for real.

Woods had his online game face on, and for his legions of fans that’ s possibly a good thing. He had a few smiles along with Couples, but if the next smile from him comes when he’ t being fitted for a green coat on Sunday, well, that’ ersus all right with them.

The particular feel-good Tiger probably can’ capital t win one of those, anyway, no matter how great his game has recently become. That’ s probably why an exercise round on Tuesday that incorporated Phil Mickelson for the first time anyone may remember didn’ t exactly break down into a love fest.

The old Tiger playing with a touch of world of one and a chip on his shoulder most definitely can.

That’ t a bit shocking considering the path Forest has taken in recent years. Back problems, individual problems and drug problems have got combined to keep him mostly within the sidelines as a new generation associated with golfers has taken flight.

Indeed, it’ s hard to determine just where Woods is. Their swing is fine, his back seems good, and he’ s already been back in contention on Sunday within the last few tournaments of his newest comeback.

But he’ s less than a year out of rehabilitation, where he went after being broken for DUI in the early morning hrs last May on a Florida road. Woods was so out of it which he told police he was generating to California, and toxicology checks later revealed five different medicines in his system.

Plus it’ s got to be difficult to get the killer instinct back when you’ re suddenly trying to be close friends with guys you made your own life’ s mission to defeat.

” I wandered past Tiger on the range right before he came in and spoke for you guys, and I said, `I never ever thought I would see the day, Gambling and Phil playing an exercise round at Augusta, ” ’ Rory McIlroy said. ” And we had a bit of a laugh about that. ”

That it took Forest until he was in his forties to be able to relate to most of his many other players – and some of their fans – isn’ t all of that surprising for anyone who has read the thorough new biography ” Tiger Woods” that details his great achievements and biggest lows.

The book describes him being a product of his parents, who had been determined to raise a champion but additionally raised a loner who discovered his only solace on the course.

” Even the simplest human civilities – a simple hello there or thank you – routinely proceeded to go missing from his vocabulary, ” authors Jeff Benedict and Armen Keteyian wrote. ” A jerk was too much to expect. ”

There were a few nods upon Wednesday, though they were perfunctory best case scenario. On the seventh hole, Woods in fact mouthed ” thank you” in order to fans who cheered him along the way to the tee box, and previously the driving range he agreed upon a few autographs.

Above all, though, the driver was finding the fairway and the putts were going in which he wanted. In the practice round per day earlier, Woods had made novelty helmet on both the par-5s on the back again nine.

If he or she hasn’ t exactly been lover friendly, it doesn’ t appear to matter to those who continue to view him in numbers no other gamer can come close. He’ s the legend with flaws, but the legend nonetheless and any point out he might be nearby always will get fans rushing to whatever gap he’ s playing.

Woods fit in fine Wednesday inside a curious practice round pairing using the 58-year-old Couples and Matt Parziale , the particular amateur golfer and professional firefighter who squeezes in amateur competitions between shifts at the firehouse within Brockton, Massachusetts. Parziale won the particular U. S. Mid-Amateur Championship to obtain a spot in the Masters at the age of thirty.

Woods complimented Parziale’ s game, and said great things to a Masters representative regarding his caddie father after the circular. But this was clearly a day in order to fine tune his game, a day to arrange for his first Masters within three years.

There were a couple of smiles at the end of nine holes, however the real smiles can wait till Sunday.

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Tim Dahlberg is really a national sports columnist for The Connected Press. Write to him with tdahlberg(at)ap. org or

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