The Masters: Woods keeping emotions in check ahead of Sunday's finale

By Sports Desk November 14, 2020

Tiger Woods has given no consideration to the emotions that may come with placing the green jacket on a new Masters champion on Sunday as his focus was purely on attempting to stay in contention in round three.

Last year, Woods ended an 11-year wait for a 15th major title with a stunning triumph at Augusta National, his fifth Masters win and one shy of Jack Nicklaus' overall record.

An even-par 72 on Saturday means he is 11 strokes off leader Dustin Johnson, whose score of 16 under matches the 54-hole record set by Jordan Spieth in 2015.

Johnson is four shots clear at the top of the leaderboard and whether Woods is awarding his fellow American a green jacket or someone else in contention, he has not thought about how he will feel doing so. 

"I have not. Tuesday [the Champions Dinner] was a long, tough day for me, but I have not thought about tomorrow yet," Woods told a news conference following Saturday's round. 

"I was focused on trying to get myself in contention going into tomorrow.

"I just found out that the tee times are going to be a bit early tomorrow and going off two tees, so I didn't know what that bracket was going to be.

"I don't know exactly what position I'm in. I certainly will be part of the early part of the split and get after it tomorrow. We'll see how emotional it'll be after tomorrow's round."

While Johnson hunts a maiden Masters victory, this year marked the 25th anniversary of Woods' first appearance at the major, as an amateur in April 1995.

With the 2020 tournament pushed back to November due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the course has proven unpredictable for many seasoned competitors, including Woods, who stated earlier in the week that previous champions would be favoured once the ground firmed up.

"Well, it got a little bit faster, yes, but the putts just still aren't quite breaking," said Woods, who also said he was dealing with back pain during his third round.

"Some of the downhill putts are starting to move a little bit, but the uphill putts – we normally say that everything breaks towards Rae's Creek, and the greens can get a little touch grainy. 

"That's definitely been the case this week, just because they've been a little bit longer."

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    Even in these extraordinary times, Barcelona letting Luis Suarez go to Atletico Madrid is starting to look like the oddest decision of the season.

    Suarez's double over Eibar on Thursday secured a 2-1 victory for the league leaders, who are seven points clear at the top with a game in hand over champions Real Madrid in second.

    The Uruguay star, who has netted six in his past six league games for Atleti, is joint-top of the division's scoring charts alongside former team-mate Lionel Messi.

    It seems increasingly likely that Suarez, and certainly Atletico, will be at the top of the tree come the end of 2020-21.

    With the majority of sides having now played half of their matches, the Stats Perform AI team have run the numbers to simulate how the rest of the LaLiga campaign will play out – and it's good news for Diego Simeone.

     

    The data model estimates the probability of each match outcome – either a win, draw or loss – based on each team's attacking and defensive quality.

    Those ratings are allocated based on four years' worth of comprehensive historic data points and results, with more weighting given to recent matches to account for improvements or declines in form and performance trends.

    The AI simulation takes into account the quality of the opposition that a team scores or concedes goals against and rewards them accordingly.

    All that data is used to simulate upcoming matches using goal predictions from the Poisson distribution – a detailed mathematical model – with the two teams' attacking and defending ratings used as inputs.

    The outcome of the season is then simulated on 10,000 different occasions in order to generate the most accurate possible percentage chance of each team finishing in their ultimate league position.

     

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    Atletico have been given a 75.1 per cent chance of winning LaLiga, according to the model.

    Simeone's men are predicted to finish on 86 points, nine clear of the rest of the field. They are given just a 17.8 per cent chance of coming second and dropping outside the top four is considered practically impossible.

    Barcelona and reigning champions Real Madrid are predicted to end with 77 points apiece, with just a 12.4 per cent chance each of pipping Atleti to the title. Madrid have a 41 per cent chance of finishing second, slightly above Barca's 39.4, having beaten Ronald Koeman's side 3-1 in the first Clasico of the season at Camp Nou last October.

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    Valencia fans might be enduring a difficult time (again), and our sim has Los Che missing out on European football once more, if only by four points. That said, they still have a 3.6 per cent chance of a Europa League spot, which is better odds than those given to Supercopa de Espana winners Athletic Bilbao.

     

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