In a phone interview with 120 Sports, the Golf Channel analyst said that Woods has shown “steady improvement” and is encouraged about the direction of his swing and short game.
“I think his golf game as a whole is in a great place,” Begay said. “I think it was good for him to stay a step back, to reassess a variety of different things and do things on his timeline.
“I think that’s very important. It’s easy to get bullied into trying to acquiesce to the media’s concerns, or the PGA Tour’s concerns, or other people’s agendas. My suggestion to him was to take as much time as he needed to just figure out this issue with his short game and also to work on or clean up a couple of things that might be a little loose with his golf swing. …
“I think things are really settling. We’ve had some good discussions over the last week or so and he feels good about it.”
As for the upcoming Masters, which Woods has missed just once in his pro career (2014), Begay said that he didn’t know definitely and it is “literally a 50-50 chance right now, from what I can tell.”
“I think that’s far better odds than what it was, say, three weeks ago. Three weeks ago I would have said there was maybe a 1-in-10 chance of him playing at Augusta.”
So what’s changed?
“Just steady improvement,” Begay said. “I don’t know that there was any one thing specifically that you can say a player looks at, but it’s simply something that a player feels when they step on the golf course. They feel like they can go out there and basically defend themselves. … If a player feels like they can do what they want, then they go out and play.”
Woods skipped last week's Arnold Palmer Invitational, a tournament he has won eight times, because he said his game is still not up to his standards. He has until 5 p.m. Friday to commit to next week’s Shell Houston Open. If he doesn’t add a tournament and decides to play the Masters, it will mark the first time that he’s entered a major while outside the top 100 in the world.