By Peter Scrivener
BBC Sport at Augusta National
|Dates: 11-14 April Venue: Augusta National|
|Coverage: Watch highlights of the first two days before uninterrupted live coverage of the final rounds on BBC Two, with up to four live streams online. Live radio and text commentary of all four days on BBC Radio 5 Live, Sports Extra, BBC Sport website and mobile app. Full details|
Tiger Woods believes he can break his decade-long drought in the majors and win a fifth Masters title this week.
The 14-time major champion, who last won at Augusta National in 2005, has not won any of golf’s four majors since claiming the 2008 US Open.
After back surgery, he returned to form in 2018 with a “special” win at the Tour Championship after competing at The Open and US PGA Championship.
“I feel like I can win again,” said the 43-year-old American.
“I’ve proven I can do it. I put myself in with a chance of winning the last two majors of last year.
“I was right there at The Open and had the lead. I was making a run at the PGA. I just needed to not throw away a couple of shots, which I managed at the Tour Championship at East Lake.
“From the struggles I’ve had the last few years, to take the lead on the first day and then end up winning the tournament wire-to-wire made it more special. It was a great way to cap off the season.
“But more than anything I’ve just proved to myself that I can play at this level again.”
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Woods, who has had surgery four times to solve back injuries in recent years, has climbed to 12th in the world rankings – nobody in the current top 11 has won the Masters.
However, he admitted he is surprised to have not won a major in more than a decade, as he continues to pursue Jack Nicklaus’s record of 18, set when he won his sixth Green Jacket at the age of 46 in 1986.
“After I won my 14th, I felt like I still had plenty more major championships that I could win,” he said.
“I put myself there with chances on the back nine on various Sundays and just haven’t done it. Hopefully this year, I’ll put myself there again and get it done.”
With a smile, he added: “I know that I can play this golf course. I’ve had some success here.”
Reed belief and room for dinner
Patrick Reed has also had some success and is undaunted by the fact only three men have defended their title in 82 previous Masters – Nicklaus in 1965-66, Nick Faldo in 1989-90 and Woods in 2001-02.
“I always feel it would be harder to win the first because every guy out there believes they can win a major,” said the 28-year-old American.
“But until you actually go and do it, there’s a self-doubt in the back of your mind. Am I going to be able to do it?
“Once you get over that hurdle, then your confidence goes even higher because you start believing.”
Reed also said he used his Green Jacket as motivation. “I position the jacket everywhere I go,” he explained.
“So every time I wake up, I see it. Every time I come home I see it. Every time I go to bed, I see it.
“It makes me hungry to try to win another.”
As tradition dictates, Reed chose the menu for Tuesday’s champions dinner and elected to serve a bone-in cowboy ribeye steak for the main course along with two salad options and a collection of creamy side dishes.
The Texas-born player has lost around 10lb and added: “I’ve lost a little weight but the reason is because tonight I knew what menu I was putting out there so I need to leave a little room to be able to fit back in it.”
Reed is two Green Jackets behind his fellow American Phil Mickelson and the left-hander says he is “looking forward to getting on this golf course where I don’t feel so handcuffed and I can let loose a little bit”.
Mickelson spent four days at Augusta National last week to prepare for the event.
“I usually like to play a tournament the week before a major but with a change in the Tour schedule I’m having to alter that a bit this year,” he said.
“It’s a chance to be fresh but it’s also a chance to be not as sharp. I’m not quite sure how it’s going to play out.”