Once an unbeatable No. 1 in the golf world, Tiger Woods is No. 7 (and falling) going into Thursday's Masters tee-off. After his very public adultery scandal and a yearlong slump, Woods' star has fallen so low that British rival Ian Poulter publicly predicted that Woods won't finish in the Top 5 this year. Tiger has won golf's most prestigious event four times already, and hasn't finished below sixth in any of the last six Masters, but he's also winless in his last 17 tournaments. Will Woods ever resume his reign as the world's best golfer?
Woods is washed up: "We all want this to be a morality play," with Tiger redeeming himself after his "karmic punishment," says Filip Bondy in the New York Daily News. But sometimes "it's just about a messed-up swing." He's been tinkering with his it for a year, and it's only sending him backwards. "Only optimists believe anymore that Woods will accomplish his ultimate goal, winning five more majors" to pass Jack Nicklaus' record of 18.
"Tiger Woods enters Masters at Augusta without public personal crisis..."
Tiger will roar back: Even if he flubs the Masters, "Tiger will be back," says Michael Arkush in Yahoo! Sports. And he'll "win at least 19 majors," probably by 2017. He's only 35, and the "skeptics" forget that Woods has "the greatest mental powers of anyone in our era." It's "ludicrous" to expect him to get the knack of a completely new swing in just eight months, but when Tiger's back on his game, his flash-in-the-pan rivals won't know what hit them.
"Tiger still a good bet to pass Jack"
Tiger will have to earn his comeback the hard way: Woods has had to face this same question — "Will this be the one where Tiger shows the world he's back?" — every tournament, for months, says Nathaniel Uy in Bleacher Report. But when you "fall from a very high perch," people will be hard on you. And unlike golf, "you don't get a mulligan in real life." Tiger can come back, but he'll "have to earn it" on the golf course.
"Is it finally time for the world to give Tiger a break?"