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Masters 2012: Tiger Woods Relishes Return To Augusta

Tiger Woods will tee off tomorrow for his 18th career Masters looking for his fifth career win at Augusta. After a rough couple years, Tiger got back on the winning track 10 days ago with a win at Bay Hill, his first victory in 30 months. Woods was asked whether that boosted his confidence that he can make a run at Augusta

"Well, I think it was just a process. I've been putting together two good rounds, eventually three, and now four; so just had to keep sticking with it and getting more experience working with Sean," said Woods. "You know, this year you can see the numbers. End of last year and most of this year, I've been in contention. I'm just continuing the process."

Despite the criticism of Tiger in recent years, its not like he's been out of contention at Augusta. He's posted back to back fourth place finishes, both when he was not really at his best. Tiger attributes his competitiveness at the course to experience.

"I think it's understanding how to play this golf course. This is my 18th year, so I've spent just about half my life playing this tournament. It's understanding how to play this golf course, where to miss it. I've gotten just umpteen amount of advice from guys who have played here way more than I have. That's really helped. Over the years of playing with Raymond and Freddie and Ollie and Nick Price, you name it, right on down the list, of just understanding how to play this golf course."

"Granted, it's changed over the years, but still, you still miss it in the same spots. Just understanding how to do that has really helped me over the years, and I think that's one of the reasons why you see so many guys here. The older players are in contention a lot, but they just know how to play it."

It's interesting to hear Tiger paint himself as the elder statesman, especially given that his co-favorite at Augusta is 22 year old Rory McIlroy. Tiger says he sees a future champion in the young Irishman.

"You know, he has all of the makings of being a great champion for a long period of time. We have seen him obviously what he did last year at the Masters and how he came back at the Open. He led, what, seven out of eight rounds in Major Championships last year, which is pretty impressive, right in a row. So he just needs to get more experienced. That's just from playing. He's put himself there. Seems like every single tournament he plays in, he's in the Top‑10, and that's great to see."