Francesco Molinari has told Sky Sports News that Tiger Woods' revitalised putting form makes the American a red-hot favourite to win the Masters next week.
Woods is back at the top of the world rankings after three PGA Tour wins already this season and will be bidding for a fifth Green Jacket at Augusta.
He has not won a major since the 2008 US Open and his game endured a major meltdown due to injury and off-course issues.
But the 37-year-old is back to his best - not least with the flat stick - and Molinari reckons that makes him the man to beat at Augusta.
"He has been really impressive this year," said the Italian, who lost in the singles to Woods at the 2010 Ryder Cup. "Three wins before the Masters is something really special and even more than that is the way he won, both in Doral and at Bay Hill especially.
"I think the last couple of years the main issue for him has been his putting and in those two tournaments his putting was absolutely fantastic. So he is definitely the number one favourite and with his history at Augusta he will be hard to beat."
Molinari will be making his fourth appearance in the event and after finishing 19th last year, he is hopeful of mounting a realistic challenge this time around.
"Last year was a pretty good finish," he said. "I probably could have done better at the weekend but it is an experience that will be useful this year and my game is in pretty good shape.
"So I hope to be there and somehow try to get into contention on Sunday afternoon and make things happen."
Even after three previous visits, the Masters still has the power to excite the three-time European Tour winner.
"It is special because of all the history that has been happening there in the past," he added. "Everyone as a kid watches Augusta on TV and every kid dreams of playing there.
"So it still remains special once you get there. Every year is a bit different but every time you drive onto the golf club it is an amazing feeling."
The world No 36 has made a steady start to the season and showed signs of form in Morrocco last week, finishing 15th in the Trophee Hassan II.
"I am happy with my game," he said. "It has been a steady start to the season. I didn't have any great finishes yet but I am happy with every aspect of the game. I think it is just about patience and looking forward to being at Augusta and hopefully having a good tournament there."
Watch the Masters live and exclusively on Sky Sports with all four days of action in HD & 3D with Red Button options of Amen Corner & 15th & 16th starting at 7pm on April 11.
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