PALM BEACH GARDENS (United States) (TIP): World number one Tiger Woods makes his third start of the year on Thursday at the US PGA Tour Honda Classic near his home but his thoughts are already on the Masters.Woods, a 14-time major champion chasing the record 18 major wins of Jack Nicklaus, will be tested by an all-star lineup in the $6 million event at PGA National. Reigning Masters champion Adam Scott of Australia, reigning British Opwn champion Phil Mickelson and Northern Ireland stars Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell are also in the field at the first of four consecutive Florida stops on the US tour ahead of the year’s first major, the Masters, in early April at Augusta National.
“Once we get to Florida, we’re all thinking about it, on our way to Augusta,” Woods said. “For most of the guys, this is like their prep to Augusta this week. The quality and the depth of the field has gotten so much better in recent years.” Woods is already pondering how the 17th hole at Augusta National will play now that the huge century-old pine nicknamed the Eisenhower Tree has been removed from the left side of the fairway following damage from an ice storm. “I’ve hit it a few times. It’s an iconic landmark,” Woods said. “I can’t say some of the guys are going to miss it, but there will be a difference, no doubt about it.