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March 18, 2013

Hank Haney says Tiger's game in good shape for Masters

Posted at 12:15 PM by Coleman McDowell | Categories: 2013 Masters, Hank Haney, Masters, Tiger Woods

TigerTiger Woods's ex-coach Hank Haney thinks Woods is preforming even better in 2013 than he did in 2012, when he won three times, according to John Huggan of the Scotsman.com

“Tiger is playing much better this season,” Haney said. “His distance control with the wedges has improved tremendously since last year, a fact evidenced by the fact that he made a lot of birdies from inside 100 yards.”

One of the main reasons has been his performance off the tee. Even though Woods has hit only 56.6 percent of fairways this year, 127th on the Tour, Haney believes that his ability to control the errant drives has been an improvement from the past three seasons.

“Because of the distance so many of the professionals now hit the ball, a lot of them are benefiting from not having to hit many drivers,” Haney said. “Tiger is definitely one of those players. When I taught him, he missed about 85 percent of his fairways to the right, even though he would sometimes say he had a ‘two-way’ miss going. And over the last three years that has actually been true; his misses with the driver have been almost 50-50 left and right. Last week, however, was different. Last week Tiger largely eliminated the left-side miss. For any player, eliminating half the golf course is a great confidence boost.”

Woods received another confidence boost before the tournament at Doral in the form of a putting tip from Steve Stricker on his way to the lowest four-round putting total of his career. Haney referenced Tiger's former caddie, Steve Williams, who would say if Woods was under 120 putts in a tournament, then he would win. Woods manged to best that mark by 20 with only 100 total putts at Doral.

"Victory was almost assured," Haney said.

Woods is in search of his first major win since 2008 and is a 4-to-1 favorite at this year's Masters. Haney thinks his former pupil is finally close to the level that got him his 14 majors in the first place.

“It’s all about the majors for Tiger,” Haney said. “For any player, victory in any of the four means matching a good ball-striking week with a good putting week. In the past, the ball-striking part was a given for Tiger. And it looks like he is approaching that level again.”

Photo: Woods and Haney at the 2009 WGC Championship Accenture Match Play (Credit: Robert Beck)

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