Column: Tiger at Masters? NBC golf analyst Chamblee wants to believe


By Teddy Greenstein - Chicago Tribune



NBC golf analyst Brandel Chamblee wants to believe the Instagram chatter that Tiger Woods has been working avidly with instructor Chris Como in hopes of playing the Masters, which begins next week.

“If you can believe what you read on social media, his coach has been down there with him in Palm Beach and he has been hitting lot of golf balls,” Chamblee said Tuesday on a media conference call. “The way I understand it, he has been practicing quite diligently. It wouldn’t surprise me if Tiger shows up at Augusta National.”

Said fellow NBC analyst Colin Montgomerie: “He is still the needle in the game and it would be great to see him play. … But if he does, I hope he can compete and that we’re not seeing Tiger bowing out scoring 77-78. Let’s hope he competes enough where he’s able to score two 72s and make the cut. I hope what Brandel has said comes to fruition. I’m not saying he would contend, but let’s hope he can compete.”

Woods is currently a member of the Masters’ 94-man field, but he has shown few signs that he will be able to vie for a fifth green jacket. He missed the Masters in 2014 and 2016 because of injuries and has not teed it up since withdrawing from the Dubai Desert Classic in February with back spasms.

Woods has committed to attending Tuesday’s Champions Dinner but beyond that …

“I’m trying everything to be able to get back and play,” Woods said last week on “Good Morning America.”

“I love that event. It’s meant so much to me in my life. It has so much history and meaning to me, I’d love to get back.”

This will mark the 20th anniversary of Woods’ breakthrough, record-breaking, 12-shot victory at Augusta National.

He was paired with Montgomerie for the third round in 1997 and shot 65. Montgomerie, who slumped to 74, was awed by what Woods did on the second hole, the right-to-left par-5.

“I had the honor (off the tee) and hit the brow of the hill,” he recalled. “I had a 4-wood in and came up my usual short-right. He must have been 150 yards ahead of me and he flew the green with a 9-iron. I saw that and said to myself: This is something extraordinary.”

No surprise, both analysts view Dustin Johnson as the man to beat. Johnson has won his last three tournaments.

“Your eye immediately goes to Dustin Johnson,” Chamblee said, adding that Johnson’s only flaw is his substandard work from the bunkers.

Said Montgomerie of Augusta National: “If a course is built for someone, it’s Dustin Johnson. We used to say that about Tiger Woods.”

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By Teddy Greenstein

Chicago Tribune