The stage is set for the first major championship of the 2013 PGA Tour season. As the world's best golfers head to Augusta National for The Masters, the buzz is building around the biggest story of the week: Will Tiger Woods win his first major championship in five years? The answer: 100 percent yes! Let's take a look at my bold prediction through the eyes of objective reality.
1. It's time. What happened after Tiger's cheating scandal leaked to the world in 2009 was predictable. He was suffering from cognitive overload and wasn't used to experiencing negative press. His world literally came crashing down which consequently brought down his golf game.
But as I predicted on national TV on The Golf Channel two years ago, when many people had written Tiger off for good, he came back and recaptured the number one world ranking again. With three victories on tour in 2012 and already three victories on tour in 2013, it's time to win a major. Tiger is not only ready, but in his mind he's already wearing the green jacket. That might sound kind of cocky to some, but the only way for champions to reach their goals is to see the vision and truly believe it in their own mind first.
2. Mental toughness. Being at the top of your physical game will only get you so far at a place like Augusta National. Mental toughness is key. With two famous short par 5s, holes #13 and #15, the players must stop and think. Do they go for the green in two shots and try to make an eagle? Do they lay up leaving themselves an easy third shot to setup a birdie? Do they risk going for the green in two and dumping the ball in the water?
Tiger Woods is the most mentally tough athlete in all of golf, if not professional sports. And not only that, but his mental toughness is the best it's ever been. The stress and struggles he's endured since Thanksgiving of 2009 have only made him that much tougher. In mental toughness training, we teach the performer how to compartmentalize his emotions, in other words how to focus on one problem at a time. Tiger is finally at the point that when he's on the golf course he's focused on one thing: winning. If anyone is going to be able to outthink this nostalgic setting, and overcome obstacles like Rae's Creek, Amen Corner and the pressure of capturing the green jacket, it's Tiger Woods.
3. Putting. Putting is key at The Masters. Augusta National is famous for its slick and undulated greens. Being the best ball striker means nothing if you can't putt out here. Shortly after winning at Torrey Pines this year, Tiger said he felt his putting wasn't as good as it could be. At Doral in Miami, he spent some time on the practice green with Steve Stricker who offered Woods some advice about his stroke. Tiger went on to win Doral that weekend, and his eighth Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill in Orlando. He's making those clutch three to seven foot par putts again, and that's one of the keys to winning at Augusta.
4. Body Language says it all. If you look back at Tiger Woods post 2009, you'll notice something very obvious. He was physically on the golf course, but his mind was someplace else. This is exactly what you would expect to happen after your whole image becomes ruined overnight. But Tiger has recovered and it's obvious in his body language. He is walking the golf course again like he owns the place, and with that sense of inner arrogance that all great champions possess. He expects to win every time he shows up and you can clearly see it on his face. His walk is bold, confident and intimidating.
5. Tiger Woods thrives on pressure. To the average performer, pressure is something to be avoided. It brings fear and discomfort. The great ones like Tiger Woods thrive on pressure. One of the secrets of handling the pressure is called Rate of Vibration (ROV). A performer's ROV is made up of energy, enthusiasm, confidence, belief and clarity. The higher the ROV, the more capable the performer can work through the pressure.
Think back over the years to how many seemingly impossible situations Tiger Woods has managed to conquer. It's because he knows how to raise his ROV at will. If you were to measure Tiger's ROV this week on a scale of 1 to 1,000, I guarantee you it would be close to tipping the scales.
The bottom line: a bet against a champion like Tiger Woods at Augusta National is a bad bet. On the physical plain he has perseverance, on the mental plane he has toughness and on the spiritual plane he has artistry like no other athlete. This is the year of the Tiger. This weekend in Augusta, Georgia, Tiger Woods comes one step closer to breaking Jack Nicklaus' record for the most major championship titles. It's this Sunday afternoon in historic Butler Cabin that Tiger Woods will be presented with his fifth green jacket.