Steve Stricker: This time, Tiger’s comeback is for real

Steve Stricker has backed Tiger Woods to possibly end his decade-long major drought at next week’s Masters following his recent comeback.

Stricker, who is hoping to seal a spot at Augusta by winning this week’s Shell Houston Open, spoke about the former world number one ahead of play in Texas.

“As far as Tiger goes, I played a nine-hole practice round with him at Valspar,” said Stricker. This is for real this time, I think, this comeback.”

“He’s looking good, he feels good, he’s talking good about his game and himself and how he feels. So it’s exciting to see, it really is. He’s walking with a bounce in his step like he did when he was out here kicking everybody’s butt.

“So it wouldn’t surprise me one bit if he wins again this year. It could be next time at Augusta, who knows? He likes that spot.

Woods played just 24 tournaments in four years following personal and injury problems, and underwent four operations on his spine, the most recent in April 2017, but he has come back stronger this year with consecutive top-five finishes in his last two events.

Stricker finished 12th at the recent Valspar Championship where Woods was runner-up, and has won two straight events on the Champions tour, but needs to win in Texas to earn a place at the Masters.

“I’m excited the way I’m playing out there and I would like to carry that over to this Tour, too,” Stricker added. “I played all four of the majors last year and I’m not in any of them this year, so I’ve got some work cut out if I want to play in some of those.

“It’s a long shot to come here and win, but hopefully I’ll play well and see what happens.”