Tiger Has Trouble Reading Greens Again as Open Challenge Fizzles Out
GULLANE, Scotland, July 21 (Reuters) - Tiger Woods resorted to technical jargon and gripes about slow greens as his long major drought continued on Sunday with a disappointing final round at the British Open.
The American, who has been stuck on 14 majors for five years, never looked like restarting his collection at Muirfield despite beginning the fourth round just two shots off the pace.
Woods has never won a major when starting from behind in the fourth round and from the moment he bogeyed the first at Muirfield on Sunday that sequence was destined to continue.
Despite climbing back to the top of the world rankings after his career was blighted by knee injuries and a messy divorce, Woods seems a mere mortal these days when it comes to the majors. Gone are the days when he would lead from the front and gring his rivals into submission.
Quite what his inner thoughts are, however, no one knows because the 37-year-old American prefers to talk about club selection and wind speeds.
He offered these thoughts to one question about yardages after finishing tied sixth on Sunday, meat and drink to a player seemingly reluctant to talk about raw emotions.
"I'm very surprised. Because I had 48 front yesterday on 15 and I hit sand wedge about 40 feet past the hole, went about a buck 70," he said.
"Today I had 51 front, it was actually more downwind today at one. And I hit sand wedge and it stopped, just like it did at 15 today.
"We hit two good shots in there and they both stopped. It was a very different golf course today."
Woods said he thought he had played well throughout the week but said putting was difficult especially as the greens at the weekend had slowed down considerably from the lightning fast speeds seen on Thursday and Friday.
"I had a hard time adjusting to the speeds. They were much slower today, much softer," he said.
"I don't think I got too many putts to the hole today. I really had a hard time and left myself a couple of long lag putts early on when it was really blowing and left them way short and didn't make those putts.
"Hit a couple of bad shots at 10 and 11 and that was about it and at three. But other than that I really hit the ball well. Just couldn't ever get the pace of these things."
Woods said he was not the only one who thought the conditions had changed drastically over the four days.
"A couple of the guys were mumbling to their caddies and saying some things," he said. "You could see it. I saw a few tossed clubs here and there as the balls were checking up."
Woods said he wasn't surprised fellow American Phil Mickelson took the title with a sparkling 66.
"It's certainly gettable out there. The greens are slower and if you have, I guess, the feel to hit it far enough up there into the greens you can get it done," he said.
"I think if it does feel any better, it's that Phil got to three (under-par). If he would have posted one it would have been a different story.
"I think a lot of us would be a little more ticked than we are now. But he posted three. That's a hell of a number."
Woods managed only three birdies on Sunday, compared to six bogeys, but refused to be down-hearted at fizzling out in another major despite being in contention.
"I've won 14 and in that spell where I haven't won since Torrey (Pines), I've been in there. It's not like I've lost my card and not playing out here," he said.
"I've been in probably about half the majors on the back nine on Sunday with a chance to win during that stretch. I just haven't done it yet. And hopefully it will be in a few weeks."
Woods's next attempt will be at the U.S. PGA Championship at Oak Hill in New York next month. (Editing by Tony Jimenez)