Masters chances: Could Tiger Woods win this year?

Jay Busbee

This week before the Masters tees off, we'll be sizing up the green-jacket chances of many of golf's top players. We begin, of course, with the man who'll be a focus of attention no matter where he's ranked or how he's playing.

Tiger Woods

Current world ranking: 7

So far this year: Woods has played in four tournaments and finished no higher than a tie for 10th. That finish came at Doral thanks to a fine Sunday round long after he was out of the hunt.

Record at Augusta: Stunning and sterling. Woods has played in 16 Masters and missed the cut only once, way back in 1996. The next year, he'd go on to win the first of his four green jackets. He's also posted seven other top-10 finishes, most recently last year's tie for fourth.

Why he could win: It's Augusta, where Woods' muscle memory ought to take over and put him at least onto the front page of the leaderboard. Plus, if it's Sunday and he's within a couple strokes of the lead, all of the drama of the last 18 months could melt away and we could be looking at early-2000s Tiger once again. If he gets in a groove and stops thinking so much, you never know what might happen.

Why he could fall short: Because this is 2011, not 2001, and Woods is in the midst of a personal and professional makeover that's left his game a complete mess. Augusta National isn't the place you want to bring an in-progress swing change, and the undulating greens aren't the place for Woods' shaky putting game. Augusta's a good sentimental fit for Woods, but not a realistic one.

Our take: Woods will have at least one good round at Augusta, possibly two. And if one of those should come on Thursday or Friday, well, the entire golf world will be turning handsprings at the thought of Woods in contention on Sunday. But Augusta will grind down Woods. He may still have a green jacket in his future, but it won't come this year.

Your turn, friends. Your take on Woods' chances at Augusta this year?

-For the finest in Masters coverage, follow Devil Ball Golf all week long on Facebook right here and on Twitter right here at @jaybusbee.-