Tiger Woods appears to have his best shot at Masters glory in a long time and is sure to be among many people’s favourites for the first major of the year.
Golf’s biggest star has been plagued by injuries in recent years but enjoyed a wonderful resurgence in 2018, capped off by an emotional victory at the Tour Championship.
In addition to that triumph, Woods also contended strongly at The Open and US PGA Championship, significantly raising hopes he could yet add to his haul of 14 major titles.
Tiger earned the first of his green jackets in 1997 and last won the Masters in 2005.
Ahead of this week’s tournament, Omnisport delves into the PGA Tour’s official statistics archive to see how the game of a rejuvenated Woods compares to when he secured those successes at Augusta.
Counting down the top 5 shots of the week …
No. 5: @TigerWoods from the bushes, left-handed, on his knees. pic.twitter.com/gvPnWfoMaQ
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) April 1, 2019
Woods was only 21 when he claimed his maiden major title in remarkable circumstances, prevailing by 12 shots at Augusta with a scarcely believable performance.
That victory was one of four wins for Woods in 1997 and he finished the year at the top of the PGA Tour money list, as well as ranking first in a host of scoring categories.
John Daly was the only player to boast a longer average driving distance, but Tiger was far more than just a big hitter, as evidenced by his superb figures in a range of fields.
Prize money: $2,066,833 (Rank: 1st)
Average driving distance: 294.8 yards (2nd)
Driving accuracy: 68.62% (97th)
Greens in regulation: 70.35% (4th)
Average putts per hole (when hitting the green in regulation): 1.776 (60th)
Birdie or better conversion (when hitting the green in regulation): 33.64% (1st)
Three-putt avoidance: 3.57% (159th)
Scrambling: 60.10% (71st)
Scoring average: 69.75 (1st)
Front-nine scoring average: 34.88 (1st)
Back-nine scoring average: 34.88 (1st)
Par-three scoring average: 3.03 (47th)
Par-four scoring average: 4.01 (6th)
Par-five scoring average: 4.46 (1st)
Average birdies per round: 4.25 (1st)
Average holes per eagle: 104.1 (1st)
The season featuring Woods’ last Masters triumph – and the second of his three Open Championship victories – was statistically similar to 1997. He again finished top of the money list and topped several other categories he had led eight years earlier.
In addition, he once more drove the ball further than all but one of his rivals (Scott Hend), but was well down the rankings when it came to driving accuracy.
Woods nevertheless hit almost 70 per cent of greens in regulation and was the most clinical player on tour when it came to converting opportunities to break par.
As had been the case in 1997, his scoring averages on the front and back nine were identical and helped him top the overall category once again.
Five days until Masters Week.
Verne Lundquist and Lanny Wadkins suspend belief on No. 16 and deliver the signature moment in @TigerWoods’ march towards a fourth Green Jacket in the 2005. pic.twitter.com/euw2j0JmE8
— Masters Tournament (@TheMasters) April 3, 2019
Prize money: $10,628,024 (1st)
Average driving distance: 316.1 yards (2nd)
Driving accuracy: 54.58% (191st)
Greens in regulation: 69.89% (6th)
Average putts per hole (when hitting the green in regulation): 1.731 (5th)
Birdie or better conversion (when hitting the green in regulation): 36.56 (1st)
Three-putt avoidance: 2.70% (53rd)
Scrambling: 62.09% (14th)
Scoring average: 69.11 (1st)
Front-nine scoring average: 34.55 (4th)
Back-nine scoring average: 34.55 (1st)
Par-three scoring average: 3.04 (33rd)
Par-four scoring average: 3.92 (1st)
Par-five scoring average: 4.52 (1st)
Average birdies per round: 4.57 (1st)
Average holes per eagle: 133.2 (16th)
It is no surprise that Woods’ statistics for 2018 were less impressive; for starters, he had to gradually recover form and fitness after missing huge chunks of the previous four years. Yet it is instructive to note the categories in which he dropped the furthest.
While his overall scoring average placed him 11th, Woods was notably worse on the back nine compared to the front – an eye-catching stat perhaps due in part to his advancing years.
He also hit far fewer greens in regulation last year than in 1997 or 2005, while his length off the tee was no longer out of the ordinary. The likes of Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka and Justin Thomas all boasted much higher average driving distances.
With that in mind, it stands to reason that Woods was no longer the standout performer on par fives, slipping to 24th in a category he had routinely dominated in his pomp (ranking first in nine out of 10 seasons from 1997 to 2006).
However, he ranked fourth in scrambling (saving par or better after missing the green) last year and also performed well in a number of putting metrics. More than anything else, a sharp short game will surely be key to his hopes at Augusta.
Look what just came in the mail today. Thank you to everyone for making number 80 so special. pic.twitter.com/xBxx8nb3oB
— Tiger Woods (@TigerWoods) October 18, 2018
Prize money: $5,443,841 (8th)
Average driving distance: 303.6 yards (32nd)
Driving accuracy: 59.35% (127th)
Greens in regulation: 67.40% (82nd)
Average putts per hole (when hitting the green in regulation): 1.744 (22nd)
Birdie or better conversion (when hitting the green in regulation): 32.93 (16th)
Three-putt avoidance: 2.61% (66th)
Scrambling: 64.16% (4th)
Scoring average: 69.56 (11th)
Front-nine scoring average: 34.32 (2nd)
Back-nine scoring average: 35.24 (63rd)
Par-three scoring average: 3.07 (110th)
Par-four scoring average: 3.97 (5th)
Par-five scoring average: 4.57 (24th)
Average birdies per round: 4.03 (15th)
Average holes per eagle: 204 (92nd)