Sports | April 9, 2019 9:32 am

This Could Be Tiger Woods’ Last, Best Shot at Winning the Masters

Tiger Woods in 2018. (Photo by Montana Pritchard/PGA of America via Getty Images)
Tiger Woods in 2018. (Photo by Montana Pritchard/PGA of America via Getty Images)
PGA

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It’s been nearly 15 years since Tiger Woods took home his fourth and most recent green jacket from Augusta National. Now, the 2019 Masters may be his last, best shot at a fifth.

Woods, the Masters Tournament champion in 1997, 2001, 2002 and 2005, will enter play this weekend with 12-to-1 odds of winning the tournament once again.

Those odds put 43-year-old Woods behind only Dustin Johnson (10/1) and Rory McIlroy (8/1), which means he’s projected to have a better chance of winning this year than at any other time in recent memory.

One of the biggest reasons for that is Woods, who won the season-ending Tour Championship in September, has been outplaying many of his younger PGA rivals recently and trails only McIlroy, Johnson, Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Rory and Tommy Fleetwood in total strokes gained per round.

In fact, in 2019 Woods is picking up 1.67 shots per round relative to the average player — an even better rate than the five-year best 1.60 he posted last season.

Past Masters winners have picked up a good deal of their stokes on tee-to-green shots, an area of play where Woods ranks in the top 10 this season so far.

So, this could be Woods’ best chance to win the Masters in a long time. But because of his age and the relatively small history of golfers winning majors in their mid-40s — Jack Nicklaus winning his final major at age 46 is the exception, not the rule — this could also be Woods’ last chance.

“Woods is a special talent and in the conversation for the greatest golfer ever,” according to FiveThirtyEight. “He’s playing as well heading into Augusta as he has in a long time and excelling in exactly the right categories. But between aging effects and his own injury history, he may never have a better shot at winning another Masters than he does right now. Once upon a time, Tiger was legendary for pouncing on every opportunity left in front of him. We’ll just have to see if he can summon that ability yet again.”