|Tiger Woods in Augusta National 2nd round|
The Golf genius Tiger Woods is in the pinnacle of this new-found confidence in his swing coming at a win at Bay Hill on March 25. His putter has let him down, especially at Augusta National in 2012. In the third round, Tiger Woods averaged 1.72 putts per hole. By comparison, Phil Mickelson, who is one shot off the lead averaged 1.44 .
"I certainly heard that people didn't like me kicking the club, but I didn't like it either," Woods said. "I hit it right in the bunker and didn't feel good on my toe either. "Certainly I'm frustrated at times and I apologize if I offended anybody by that. But I've hit some bad shots and it's certainly frustrating at times not hitting the ball where you need to hit it."
These numbers should tell onlookers one thing -- you can't win at Augusta with a balky putter. It's next to impossible. The greens are so firm and so demanding of precision that failure to control speed will punish players relentlessly. In Woods' case, there have been misreads, issues controlling speed, and inconsistency in his stroke. He's clearly put a lot of emphasis on his ball striking, as he was seen following the round hitting balls late in the evening following Round 3.
It is on the greens, however, where this tournament was lost for Tiger, and he won't find a solution on the practice tee. His body language all week long has been poor on the greens and he clearly doesn't feel like he's hit good putts.
Things won't get easier for him if the putter continues to be his Achille's heel (they'll get even worse if his Achille's heel acts up again). Woods will need to gain his confidence by doing one thing -- making pressure putts in a tournament situation.
Given his struggles around the greens, it should be no surprise that Woods tied his worst 54-hole score as a professional in 2012. The flat stick has to be working in order to win The Masters, and confidence is a big part of that.
Until Woods is able to gain it back, it will be a long stretch of events for the former world No. 1.
Michael C. Jones is a Yahoo! Featured Contributor in Sports and a PGA professional, following all developments on the PGA TOUR.