Woods: back on form and favourite for the Masters
Colin Montgomerie believes a Masters victory for red-hot favourite Tiger Woods would be good for the game of golf.
The world number one, who has been hampered by well-publicised off-field and injury problems in recent years, has three wins from five starts in 2013 and his return to form has raised the prospect of the American matching Jack Nicklaus' haul of 18 Majors.
"He seems to be in a much happier place and have his life a little bit more sorted out than he had even last year and I truly believe he's ready now to win a major."
Woods currently has 14 of golf's most prestigious prizes to his name and, although his last Major win came at the 2008 US Open, former European number one Montgomerie reckons win number 15 could come at Augusta this weekend.
"If Tiger putts the way he has in the last month, he should win," said the former Ryder Cup captain.
"He seems to be in a much happier place and have his life a little bit more sorted out than he had even last year and I truly believe he's ready now to win a Major - and I think it would be very good for golf if he did.
"People are turning on the Masters this year to see if he can do it and the viewing audience will be higher than normal. I'm glad Tiger's back in the frame; we've missed him and the whole Tiger Woods phenomenon."
Live on Sky Sports
The Masters - Live
- 2013 Day One
- April 11, 2013 7:00pm
Ominously for the rest of the field, Montgomerie also believes Woods, in the next few years, could improve on the level he achieved in the early 2000s, when he dominated the sport - and says only a few players will be able to challenge him at the Masters this week.
"Tiger has improved every year," said the Scot.
"He was reported as saying, when he won at Bay Hill [in March], that this is not Tiger getting back to the way he was [but] that he's going to a new level of consistency, of scoring and ability. That's what the others are starting to fear now; 'if Tiger goes to another level, what do we do?'
"Favourites for the Masters would be Tiger, Brandt Snedeker, Louis Oosthuizen, Matt Kuchar, Phil Mickelson, Keegan Bradley, Dustin Johnson and Justin Rose.
"One of those is going to win. They've all got the fire power, they've all got length, they're all on form, they're all good putters and they all have a high ball flight.
"But if Tiger starts with a 68 we're back to the feeling that we had in the mid-2000s where a lot of the guys are thinking this could be it."
However, Montgomerie doesn't feel England's former world number one Lee Westwood has what it takes to win his maiden Major.
The Scot feels time is running out for the 40-year-old and, despite Westwood switching his base to the US, Montgomerie doesn't believe he has the short game to match the best in the world at Augusta.
"England would love to see Lee win a Major and I'd love to see him do well. His short game stats have improved - but is it to the level of a Woods or a Mickelson or a Kuchar? No, I don't think it is at that level and I think it has got to be at that level to allow him to win.
"He has moved to America to try and get this elusive Major that we all want but, at the same time, putting pressure on yourself in this game is not easy. Realistically you have to say that time is running out. Very few players win or get better in their 40s."