Tiger Woods seemed to be getting his mojo back over the first three days of the Masters tournament.
With Tiger ten strokes behind leader Jordan Spieth, winning the tournament wasn’t in sight for Woods on Sunday. Yet, he showed signs of brilliance firing rounds of 69 on Friday and 68 on Saturday. He was working his way to a tie for fifth going into the tournament’s final day.
But progress came to a screeching halt on Sunday when he missed every fairway on the front side and his putter turned icy cold, missing short putts on holes two, three, and four. The four-time Masters winner exacerbated the painful stretch of the final round by hurting his wrist when he punched a low-iron shot on number nine from under a tree, striking down hard on a root unseen below the pine needles.
Woods seemed bothered by it as he continued to miss the fairway on ten and eleven. It wasn’t until the par-five, 13th hole that Woods finally found a fairway, which paid off as he hit his next shot to 15 feet and cashed in on an eagle putt that left him at level par for the round. But by then he had fallen down the leaderboard. It was too little too late. Woods finished with a one over par 73, the same score he opened with on Thursday.
There was great expectation Sunday with the pairing of Woods and the world’s number-one golfer, Rory McIlroy. Woods’s lackluster performance didn’t make it much of a match within the match. McIlroy, though lacking sharpness early in the round as he was unable to drop key putts, caught fire starting on hole eight, collecting six birdies for a 66 and a share of the low round of the day with Hideki Matsuyama. McIlroy finished fourth for the tournament.
Despite the mishap on the hidden root derailing Woods’s near-term training regimen, the 14-time Major winner found reason for optimism from his experience at Augusta this weekend.
“Considering where I was at Torrey and Phoenix,” Woods offered after the tournament, “to make that complete change and the release pattern, I’m pretty proud of what I’ve done.”
Any golfer ranked outside the top 100 certainly would be proud of finishing so high on the leaderboard. That this holds true for the phenom who won 14 Majors in his first 12 years on the Tour speaks to the struggles the 39-year-old has recently endured.
“To make my short game my strength again was pretty sweet,” Woods confessed. “That’s something that I’ve worked my butt off to get to that point. And no one knows how hard we had to work to get to this point, but I’m very pleased. This is my first tournament back, being a major championship, and to give myself a chance, it felt good.”