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Rediff.com  » Sports » IN PHOTOS: 'Beware of Tiger' at Augusta National

IN PHOTOS: 'Beware of Tiger' at Augusta National

April 08, 2015 12:01 IST

Woods possesses an undeniable comfort level around Augusta

‘In my book, he's arguably the best player who has ever played the game’

‘I saw him hit some shots and it looked impressive’

Tiger Woods

Tiger Woods of the US takes two clubs as he works on his chips shot. Photograph: Phil Noble/Reuters

‘Beware of Tiger’ warnings were sounded across Augusta National on Tuesday as golfers and fans geared up for the year's first major with Tiger Woods back on the prowl for a fifth green jacket.

Out of sight for two months while he painstakingly pieced together a broken golf game, Woods has not been out of mind as everyone from old foe Phil Mickelson to young gun Jordan Spieth cast a cautious eye towards his chances of adding a 15th major title to his collection on Sunday.

‘I'm going to have some interest to see what he's doing’

Tiger Woods of the US gets a hug from his daughter Sam and son Charlie

While on the practice area for the 2015 Masters at Augusta National Golf Course, golfer Tiger Woods of the US gets a hug from his daughter Sam and son Charlie. Photograph: Kevin Fogerty/Reuters

"In my book, he's arguably the best player who has ever played the game, so of course I'm going to have some interest to see what he's doing, especially after the break he's had," said Swedish World No 2 Henrik Stenson.

"I heard someone say that he came out by the pitching green and pitched and holed out four times in a row from 35 yards yesterday, so his short game seems to be in pretty good shape."

Greatest player of his generation

Tiger Woods

Tiger Woods of the United States waits on a green during a practice round prior to the start of the 2015 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club. Photograph: Jamie Squire/Getty Images

The greatest player of his generation and arguably of all time, Woods has tumbled from top spot in the world rankings to an alarming 111th over the past year with many experts convinced that he is suffering from the ‘chipping yips’.

Woods' short game in his two tournament starts this year has made him look more like a struggling amateur than one of golf's best but all indications are that the 39-year-old America has solved his chipping woes and is ready to contend this week.

‘Four green jackets hanging in his closet’

Augusta Golf Course

Tiger Woods' name appears with other past Masters champions on a record plaque out on the course. Photograph: Brian Snyder/Reuters

"I do believe that the easiest fix is short game," said Mickelson, a three-time Masters champion. "He's won numerous tournaments because of his short game. I just don't think it's a hard thing to get back.

"He played in front of me today and I saw him hit some shots and it looked impressive."

Ready to compete in his 20th Masters, Woods possesses an undeniable comfort level around Augusta that is reflected by the four green jackets hanging in his closet.

‘Tiger has taken enough time off’

Tiger Woods

Tiger Woods of the US wipes his face before hitting off the first tee during his practice round ahead of the 2015 Masters at the Augusta National Golf Course. Photograph: Phil Noble/Reuters

Defending champion Bubba Watson expects that familiarity will provide a major boost for Woods on Thursday when first round play gets underway.

"This place brings it out in you," said Watson. "The older champions they get excited around here. That's why everybody comes back. They want to be a part of this. It energises them.

"I think that Tiger has taken enough time off to where he wants to be back and obviously he's pretty good around this place, so he is excited.

"It's the same with him. How would you not be excited to play Augusta National?"

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