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PGA Tour Confidential: 2011 Masters

Tiger Woods, Sunday, 2011 Masters
John Biever/SI
Woods made things interesting when he shot a front-nine 31 to tie for the lead, but he couldn't keep the momentum going on the back nine.

Walker: We joke about "the process," but Woods sure looked close this week.

Dusek: This was clearly a big week for Tiger, and you've got to think that he's salivating over the prospect of two more months of practice before heading to Congressional. He may never be as automatic with the putter as he once was, but he played two excellent rounds this week, and that's part of "the process."

Godich: The biggest development might have been how so many guys responded after Tiger got a share of the lead heading to the back nine.

Herre: That's a great point, Mark. Instead of backing down, a bunch of guys kept right on going past him. You didn't see that much in the past. As has been suggested in past Confidentials, the intimidation factor appears to be gone.

Hanger: They certainly aren't rolling over for him like they used to, eh?

Lipsey: Now Tiger's just a foil who revs up the other guys, who then bury him.

Gorant: I'm not willing to go there yet. If he doesn't blow the gimme at 12 and birdies 13 to get to 12 under and two clear of the field, then it would have been interesting to see how everyone else responded, but he was never alone out front. He was never in control. When Tiger was going off, a lot of other guys were going backward. They only surged after he took himself out of it.

Godich: Tiger tied for the lead standing on the 10th tee on Sunday at Augusta had always been Tiger in control. Then he proceeded to miss the short one at 12, yank a seven-iron at the next, blow the short eagle putt at 15 and miss the 17th green from the middle of the fairway.

Gorant: Yep, that's why I agree with you that he's not responding to pressure the same, but not sure I agree that the rest of the field no longer fears him. Your examples prove one but not the other.

Godich: Tiger was tied for the lead after the birdie at 15. Scott birdied 11 to tie and 14 to move ahead. Day birdied 12 and 13. Heck, even Bo Van Pelt, playing right behind Tiger, caught him with a couple of eagles.

Morfit: You could take Tiger's performance two ways. I'm not sure I agree that it's a good sign that he played so well and yet lost by four. The flawless pressure putting is a thing of the past, which is eerie to watch play out before our eyes. It's like he's back, but he's not.

Hack: I think Tiger showed that he's ready to win again. This felt different from last year's T4. He was swinging as confidently as he has in years. Those short misses with the putter, however, are troubling.

Gorant: Saw a talking head earlier today contending that TW has changed his stroke, to more a modified pop stroke. That might explain why he seemed a bit "stabby," as Jim H. said. If true, it doesn't seem like a good move.

Lipsey: Stroke and swing don't matter. His head is all that matters.

Gary Van Sickle, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: I've got a feeling there's more to Tiger's putting stroke change than meets the eye. Why change the stroke of the game's best putter of the last 10 years? Because he has to for some reason. I believe there will be more to come on this story this year.

Garrity: Pop putting makes sense at Augusta — if it's 1958 and you're Arnold Palmer or Bob Rosburg. But in 2011, you don't want to be using the same stroke you use for swatting flies.

AUSTRALIANS JUST MISS AGAIN
Gorant: Great day for the Aussies with Geoff Ogilvy, Adam Scott and Jason Day all making a run at the coat. Will the boys from Down Under ever win, and if so, who will get it?

Godich: I'll take Day. He's only 23. He just wouldn't go away. That was awfully impressive for someone making his Masters debut.

Hanger: I was very surprised to see Adam Scott have the showing he did. Talk about back from the dead. Maybe he and Day will finally live up to all the hype, and I think either could make a run at Augusta next year.

Herre: You'd think Ogilvy, with his short game, would have a chance, but something seems to be missing of late. I was most impressed with Day. I thought for sure he'd go away, but he kept making putts. We might look back at this Masters as his coming-out party.

Morfit: I like Day a lot. He just kept plugging along, even though everyone was cheering for the other guy(s) in his group, Rory on Saturday, and Rory and Rickie on Thursday and Friday. Ellie, Jason's wife, told me she was trying to be extra vocal to make up for the discrepancy.

Evans: Day had the best golf swing of the players in the last four groups. No one hit the ball with the control and power that he demonstrated. To me he has the most "upside" on this leaderboard, including Charl.

Wei: I was impressed with Day. I wasn't sure he could hold his nerve, especially as a first timer at Augusta, but he sure proved me wrong. The kid is fearless and such a solid ballstriker (obviously a great putter, too). But I was also really impressed with Adam Scott and his clutch putting. I think today was the first time I'd used the words "Adam Scott" and "clutch putt" in the same sentence since '08 when he drained a 50-footer to beat Ryan Moore in a playoff at the Byron Nelson.

Dusek: I followed Ogilvy's round on Saturday and he was seething afterward because his 73 could easily have been 69. He made nothing, got no breaks and knew he may have lost his chance to win, but his four birdies in a row on today's back nine showed me he was still up for a fight. The harder the course, the more I'd like him over Scott and Day.

Lipsey: The Aussies, any of them, are a hell of a lot more likely to win a green jacket in coming years than the Americans. Except for Tiger, Bo Van Pelt was low Yank this week!

Gorant: You could've said the same thing 20 years ago. You can't base it on one day. If you look at Tour results for the year, I think you'll see it's not as dismal as you're always in a hurry to paint it.

Lipsey: Look at the World Ranking. Look at the Masters leaderboard. All four major titles are held by non Americans, and the Euros won the Ryder Cup. For now, it's bleak at the top stateside.

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