Like my fellow Tuna contributors, I went back and forth between a few players before choosing Woods this week. A lot of “experts” and enthusiasts think that picking Woods to win is the easy decision simply because he’s “Tiger-freaking Woods”. Although that makes sense and is a pretty good argument, it goes a little deeper than that for my rationalization.

Tiger’s history at Augusta is no secret. His stats and highlights are everywhere you look. He’s going for his 5th green jacket and his first major win since the knee surgery. Again, none of this is breaking news. It all makes for a great story but the main reasons that I am taking Tiger this week are because of his focus and mental state. There are a lot of questions about his knee, ball striking, putting, consistency, etc. but it’s hard to argue that he still isn’t a favorite, even if he’s not playing at 100% or playing his best golf. Fans of “The Field” don’t like to admit that Tiger at 90% is still better than most, if not all, of the field…although it seems that this trend may be starting to narrow.

There are plenty of guys on tour that can drive, approach, chip and putt better than Tiger. There is no one on tour that can match his focus, determination and mental toughness in the biggest spots and put it all together. I can hit the ball a mile and straight on the range but have a hard time doing it when it counts. He makes mistakes like everyone else…but when it comes down to crunch time and a pressure shot, Tiger is unmatchable. You may say that all of this is cliche and that you’ve heard it all before but it is what makes Tiger the best. It’s what makes Tiger the favorite.

Augusta has gone through a lot of changes. You’re not going to see a lot of birdies and record-setting scores. The approach is key this week and Tiger needs to keep it in the fairway more than ever. If he gets clean looks, there are few better at sticking the shot and making the putt. His putter has been streaky so far this year and has been the past few years at Augusta. The greens will be ridiculous and the rough will be impossible but Tiger knows this course better than anyone and has the ability to make it look easy.

His knee will be the focus of every camera and analyst this week because of the terrain at Augusta. He has worked like crazy to get back to 100% by this time and doesn’t seem to have any restraints. He says he’s ready and confident. A confident Tiger is a dangerous Tiger and that is why I’m going with him this week. He is focused on winning again and I am sure it scares everyone else just a little bit. Just being in the field scares them a little bit. Even without the knee thing last year, he has been runner-up the past 2 years and I’d be willing to bet that eats at him just as much. Can he do it? Definitely. Will he do it? I can’t wait to find out. It is Tiger-freaking Woods after all.

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