Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Hungry Tiger ready to prowl as Masters drama begins



Hungry Tiger ready to prowl as Masters drama begins

Tiger Woods walks on the fourth hole during a practice round on Wednesday prior to the start of the 2018 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia. AFP
Tiger Woods walks on the fourth hole during a practice round on Wednesday prior to the start of the 2018 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia. AFP

Hungry Tiger ready to prowl as Masters drama begins

“I still want to compete, and I want to beat these guys,” the 42-year-old superstar said as he looked forward to his first Masters in three years, and his first major start since missing the cut at the 2015 PGA Championship.

Woods’s promising return from spinal fusion surgery last April has galvanised a golf world eager to see if he can resume his chase to break Jack Nicklaus’s record of 18 major titles.

Woods’s rivals in a talent-laden Masters field aren’t immune.

The build-up to the Masters has featured an array of 20-something players describing the Tiger-esque feats that inspired them to pursue competitive golf.

The possibility that they could find themselves head-to-head against an in-form Woods come Sunday is “an extra motivation for everybody” says world No3 Jon Rahm, a 22-year-old from Spain.

“Tiger’s earned the attention. He’s been the biggest needle-mover in the game, and it’s going to be tough for anyone to come close to that,” said world No8 Rickie Fowler.

Woods will tee off 10:42am Augusta time (9:42pm Cambodian time) on Thursday alongside Australian Marc Leishman and England’s Tommy Fleetwood.

“The first real Masters I watched was 1997, when he won his first,” Fleetwood, 27, recalled. “A few years on and I get to play with him, and I don’t think you can get a better draw than Tiger at the Masters.”

McIlroy aiming for Grand Slam

Woods’s compelling comeback bid isn’t the only story in a Masters shaping up to be a classic.

Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy, who could complete a career Grand Slam with a first Masters victory, tees it up at 1:38pm (12:38am) alongside Rahm and former Masters champion Adam Scott of Australia.

World No2 Justin Thomas, the reigning US PGA Tour Player of the Year, can overtake Dustin Johnson atop the world rankings with a victory.

Johnson, who has reigned at No1 for more than a year, has catching up to do after a pre-tournament slip on the stairs forced him out of last year’s Masters at the 11th hour.

Spain’s Sergio Garcia, who ended nearly two decades of major futility with his victory here last year, faces an uphill battle to retain the title – a feat only Nicklaus, Nick Faldo and Woods have accomplished.

Britain’s Justin Rose, whose playoff loss to Garcia was his second runner-up finish in three years, arrives in fine form while 2015 champion Jordan Spieth hopes he has solved the putting woes that have dogged him this season in time to tame Augusta’s daunting greens.

On an Augusta National course where experience is always at a premium, two-time champion Bubba Watson has thrust himself into the mix with two victories already this year.

Mickelson on the march

And 47-year-old Phil Mickelson, who counts three green jackets among his five major titles, suddenly looks like a real contender after winning his first title in nearly five years at the WGC Mexico Championship.

Mickelson could become the oldest player to win the Masters, supplanting Jack Nicklaus who was 46 when he won in 1986.

“It’s hard for me to believe,” Mickelson said. “I remember watching it when I was in high school and how hard I pulled for him and how much I loved that Masters.”

Mickelson and Woods, known for a somewhat prickly relationship when each was at his peak, speak with nothing but respect for each other these days.

Mickelson, who has contended with his own health issues in the form of psoriatic arthritis, said there was no reason a fit Woods can’t contend, even if he hasn’t won a tournament since 2013.

“I know that he had a big challenge, but the game for him looks easy,” Mickelson said. “He’s got the shot-making and he’s already hit all these great shots for so many years that I would think it would be easier to get it back than to find it for the first time.”

MOST VIEWED

  • Hun Sen: Full country reopening to be decided in two weeks

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has announced that if the Covid-19 situation remains stable for 15 consecutive days from the end of the October 5-7 Pchum Ben public holiday, Cambodia will reopen fully, albeit in the context of Covid-19 whereby people have to adjust their lives to

  • Phnom Penh governor: Show Covid-19 vaccination cards, or else

    Phnom Penh municipal governor Khuong Sreng late on October 5 issued a directive requiring all people aged 18 and over and the parents of children aged 6-17 to produce Covid-19 vaccination cards when entering schools, markets, malls, marts, eateries and other business establishments that have been permitted

  • Cambodia seeks probe into 'false reports' on Hun Sen's alleged Cypriot passport

    Minister of Justice Koeut Rith on September 6 wrote a letter to his Cypriot counterpart Stephie Dracos requesting cooperation in investigating and providing the truth in relation to the "exaggerative and false allegations" that Prime Minister Hun Sen holds a Cypriot passport. In his letter, the

  • 'Pandora Papers' expose leaders' offshore millions

    More than a dozen heads of state and government, from Jordan to Azerbaijan, Kenya and the Czech Republic, have used offshore tax havens to hide assets worth hundreds of millions of dollars, according to a far-reaching new investigation by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (

  • Cambodia voted ‘world’s friendliest country’ in Rough Guides reader poll

    Cambodia ranked number one among the “World’s Friendliest Countries”, according to a reader poll conducted by London-based international website “Rough Guides”. Taking submissions through Twitter and Facebook, “Rough Guides”, a well-known travel agency and publisher of guidebooks, said the Kingdom “was by far the

  • Will Evergrande change the way Chinese developers do business in Cambodia?

    China’s property sector policy has exposed the grim financial condition of real estate developers including those operating in Cambodia, which raises questions over the viability of their projects and business going forward The dark blue netting draping over one of Yuetai Group Co Ltd’