Masters 2012: Tiger Woods 'as good as ever'

Media playback is not supported on this device

Woods on 'half a life' at Augusta

THE MASTERS

Venue:
Augusta National, Georgia
Dates:
5-8 April
Live BBC TV coverage:
BBC Two Saturday & Sunday from 2030 and 1900 BST; Amen Corner plus holes 15 & 16 on Saturday & Sunday on Red Button & online
BBC Radio:
5 live from 2100 BST on Thursday, Friday & Saturday; 2000 BST Sunday

Tiger Woods believes he is back to the form that saw him hold all four majors after his Masters victory in 2001.

The former world number one, who is looking for his fifth Masters title, won his first PGA Tour title since September 2009 at Bay Hill last week.

"I think I have more shots than in 2000," he said after being paired with Miguel Angel Jimenez and Bae Sang-moon in Thursday's first round.

"I'm hitting the ball as consistently day-in, day-out as I did then."

He added: "I feel like I'm driving the ball much better than I have.

"I've got some heat behind it and its very straight. My iron game is improving. So everything is headed in the right direction at the right time."

World number three Lee Westwood has already dismissed suggestions that the tournament will be a two-horse race between Luke Donald and Rory McIlroy but Woods is full of praise for the Irishman, who bounced back after his challenge last year "went pearshaped".

"It was cool to see someone learn from their mistake like that and apply it," added Woods.

"He was playing so well, he just had one bad round. He learned from it, applied it and ran away with the US Open. That was some pretty impressive playing.

"He has all the makings of being a great champion for a long period of time. He just needs to get more experienced."

Meanwhile, defending champion Charl Schwartzel says he has arrived at Augusta with "a different mind-set" following his sensational victory last year.

Media playback is not supported on this device

Behind the scenes of the Masters

The South African made four straight birdies as Rory McIlroy crumbled, to win the prestigious tournament at only his second attempt.

"I have a different mind-set coming into this event knowing that you've won," said Schwartzel, who has been given the locker previously used by the late Seve Ballesteros in the champions' locker room.

"I almost expect myself to win. I feel like I'm playing good enough. I feel like if I've done it before, why can't I do it again?"

However, the 27-year-old has not won a tournament since and returns to Augusta having missed the cut at his last two PGA Tour events.

"It has been pretty overwhelming," he added. "My life basically changed overnight.

"When I got back home, I didn't realise how big it was, how many people actually saw it.

"Wherever I went, people congratulated me, and still do. It doesn't seem to ease down. It doesn't stop, and it's fantastic."

Phil Mickelson has won the Masters three times and is predicting a low-scoring tournament this year.

"I don't want to say the greens are slow, but it's just not the same Augusta," said the 41-year-old American.

"It's wet around the greens, and there's no fear of the course. You've got to attack it this week.

"Unless something changes, and I know they have SubAir (greens drying system) and hopefully they will be able to use it, but unless they change it, it's going to be a birdie fest."

Top Stories