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PGA Golf

Tiger Woods after great Augusta practice round: ‘I’m on the good side now’

Tiger Woods played a practice round on Monday at Augusta National Golf Club and by all accounts the recently struggling golfer appears to finally be working his game into tournament form.

Alongside longtime pal Mark O’Meara, Woods appeared loose and jovial while playing remarkably well. His relaxed demeanor and solid play certainly lends to the impression that the 39-year-old may have finally turned the corner after struggling so horribly before announcing he was taking a leave of absence from competitive golf, one that ultimately lasted about nine weeks.

Woods himself even admitted he feels that the tide may at long last be turning.

“It’s been a process,” Woods said outside the Augusta clubhouse following his round, via ESPN. “But I’m on the good side now.”

Given that a significant amount of his horrible play of late surrounded his woeful chipping, it’s hardly surprising Woods headed straight to the short-game area to put in some work almost immediately upon his arrival at the club.

All told, Woods reportedly hit two bags of balls in the chipping area, hitting a minimum of 60 pitches and chips during the session. Woods later admitted he feels pretty good about where his short game is at the moment.

“Chipping is fine. I wanted to test out some wedges out here,” he said. “That was why I was chipping a little bit more.”

Woods acknowledged that it’s been a long road back, perhaps not yet to top form, but to a place where he feels he can play more than competent golf.

“It’s a progression,” he said. “I felt like I had to get my game into a spot where I could compete to win a golf tournament, and it’s finally there.”

Woods played practice rounds at Augusta on both Tuesday and Friday last week before announcing he’d play in the Masters this week after missing last year’s tournament following surgery.

But the Woods who strolled the grounds on Monday — laughing and playing loose while making big-time shots — is a far cry from the golfer who looked utterly defeated during the horrendous rounds he played prior to his leave.

In fact, Woods was so loosey-goosey he even was spotted listening to music while chipping.

Woods is expected to practice once again at Augusta on Tuesday.

(photo credit: Reuters/Jim Young)