Tiger Woods competes this week at the WGC-Mexico Championship, but he's been thinking about April's Masters for months. (Photo: AFP)
Tiger Woods, who counts four Masters titles among his 14 majors, has been laying plans for Augusta National in April ever since October.
"Started probably back in October, November," Woods said Wednesday when asked just when he began thinking about the first major championship of 2019.
"Thinking about shots I would need, clubs I'd be using for the event, what kind of swings I have been struggling with or doing well with."
In that context, this week's elite WGC-Mexico Championship, where Woods will make his third start of 2019, is all part of the Masters plan.
Woods's precise path to Augusta National, where the Masters takes place April 11-14, isn't entirely clear.
His decision to play in Mexico has left him in a quandary regarding four tournaments coming up in successive weeks in Florida: The Honda Classic, the Arnold Palmer Invitational, the Players Championship and the Valspar Championship in Innisbrook.
"From here on out, it's very complicated," Woods said. "Next week’s at home for me, then there’s a tournament that I’ve won there eight times.
"Then another event that I've won a couple times. Then the week after that is where I had an unbelievable week last year. So it gets very complicated.
"That's what I'm trying to figure out, how much to play, how much is too much, how much is not enough, and at the end of the day being race ready enough for April."
Woods returned to the Masters last year after missing both 2016 and 2017 with debilitating back trouble.
He finished with a one-over total of 289 and tied for 32nd in the tournament won by Patrick Reed, but went on to claim the US PGA Tour's Tour Championship in September and is looking ahead to 2019's major championships with new confidence.
"Last year was different," said Woods, whose comeback was still in its early stages when he arrived at Augusta National last year.
"And in previous years it (hope) was nonexistent," he said.
"This year to be able to ramp up a schedule and to be able to know what I can and can't do going into the event is a lot more comforting."