Like Always, Tiger Is In the Hunt

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↵Let's dispense with wondering what Tiger Woods winning this week's Masters might mean, and focus on the fact that he might. Woods shot a two-under 70 today, sits at 6-under for the Masters, and is in the hunt like he always had been, trailing Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter by two strokes. ↵

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↵Tiger's doing it like he always does it, too, taking advantage of the par 5s -- he's eight under on those holes, with two eagles -- and refusing to concede strokes on the rest. He's putted well, played his irons well, driven well, and generally been the great golfer we've seen for over a decade. But he won't be without competition on the weekend. ↵

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↵The top of the leaderboard is rife with talent. Poulter had three top twenty finishes in majors last year. Westwood finished third at both the British Open and PGA Championship last year. K.J. Choi's posted the same 6-under Woods did in Woods' group. Ricky Barnes is a talented U.S. Amateur winner who was the 2009 U.S. Open runner-up. Anthony Kim has tons of talent and won in Houston last weekend. And Phil Mickelson, Tom Watson, Y.E. Yang and Fred Couples are all within five strokes of the lead. ↵

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↵Tiger will be talked about as the favorite from now until the end of this tournament. That's the logical conclusion to draw, considering his talent, his reputation and his performance to this point. But Tiger's loss to Yang at last year's PGA Championship makes him plausibly vulnerable, too, and his long layoff from golf throws a bit more uncertainty into the equation. ↵

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↵At the very least, there will be drama at Augusta this weekend, and Tiger Woods will be part of it, much like every Masters for the better part of 15 years. The more things change, right? ↵

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This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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