But Ian Poulter eventually came through.
This year? Poulter will not forecast a first-page-of-the-leaderboard result.
“I don’t think he’ll finish in the top 5,” Poulter said, citing Woods’ play at the World Golf Championships at Doral four weeks ago.
“The shots he was hitting at Doral, they were very inconsistent,” Poulter said. “You can’t afford to hit shots like that on this golf course and get away with it. I don’t think you want to rely on your short game that much around this place.”
In December, Poulter tweeted that he tweaked Woods on a practice green by calling him: “No. 2.”
Woods has since fallen to No. 7 in the World Golf Rankings, his lowest since before the 1997 Masters, which he won by 12 shots.
The Augusta Chronicle reported that Woods hit two lackluster drives on the first hole Sunday in a practice round. The first went left into the pine straw. He reloaded and hit one so short, Woods reportedly said to himself: “Have you ever seen such a slow swing? That one went about 220.”
Woods has won four times here, but not since 2005.
“You can never rule him out, can you?” Poulter said. “He has such an incredible record on this golf course. He has won by plenty and won it quite a few times. We’ve seen him hit the shots in various situations when he has put himself in trouble. And he has one of the best short games in the world; that will not disappear from him.
“When he gets in position where he’s close, he generally holes putts at the right time. He hasn’t done it for a while, but I think if he starts to hole the putts at the right time then you will see the Tiger of old come out. And that’s dangerous. But I don’t see it this week.”
But if it does happen?
“It would be a hell of an achievement,” Poulter replied. “He hasn’t won for what, 18 months, two years?”
It has been 19 months. Woods romped at the 2009 BMW Championship, winning by eight shots. Seems like ages ago.