Tiger Woods

Tiger Woods’ T17 finish at Augusta earlier this month was a pleasant surprise to Johnny Miller and Brandel Chamblee, each of whom anticipated the worst when the 14-time major champion made the Masters his first competitive start after a lengthy layoff.

“Somehow (at) the Masters he got that pitching and chipping under control and actually was good out of the bunkers, good everywhere,” NBC lead analyst Miller said during a Tuesday teleconference promoting next week’s Players Championship. “He was pretty darn good. Didn’t drive it sensational, but he drove it all right and tied for 17th was pretty darn good. Sure impressed me.

“I was sort of thinking it could be a train wreck for him, but it gave him a lot of confidence (heading to the Players),” Miller observed about Woods’ return from a two-month hiatus he imposed upon himself in February.

Stunning short-game woes showed up in Woods’ repertoire starting in December at the Hero World Challenge. What Chamblee and others called chipping yips led to a career-worst 82 and missed cut in Phoenix, while Woods blamed a sore back for his early withdrawal at Torrey Pines a week later.

Chamblee echoed Miller’s praise for Woods’ rebound.

“I thought he could probably have been sort of a sad sight at Augusta National,” said the Golf Channel commentator, who had predicted that Woods’ “catastrophically bad” short game would derail his comeback at the Masters. “I would put what he did there as almost surprising as what Jordan Spieth did. It was great. It was wonderful to watch.”

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