AUGUSTA, Ga. - Tiger Woods very nearly pulled off the impossible Sunday after starting the final round seven shots back at Augusta National Golf Club. He stormed up the front nine in electrifying fashion but couldn't follow through on the back nine.
Woods finished with a final-round 67, 5 under for the day and 10 under for the tournament.
Despite a brief stint as the leader in the clubhouse, he continued his string of close-but-not-quite finishes at the Masters. Since his last victory in 2005, Woods has finished tied for third, tied for second, second, tied for sixth, tied for fourth and — on Sunday — tied for fourth.
“I got off to a nice start there and posted 31,” Woods said, “and then on the back nine, I could have capitalized some more.”
But the chances to go even lower kept slipping away. On No. 12, he lipped out a short putt for par and dropped a stroke. On 13, a hole he birdied in the first three rounds and on which he is 41 under in his career, he took par. A makeable eagle putt on 15 slipped past and he settled for birdie.
Eventual champion Charl Schwartzel played the final four holes in 4 under on Sunday. Woods played the same holes at even par. Schwartzel defeated Woods by four strokes.
While the back nine was disappointing for Woods and the massive gallery that followed him throughout the day, the front nine called to mind images of 1986. Twenty-five years after Jack Nicklaus charged through the field to win, Woods seemed poised to do the same.
He birdied 2 and 3 but dropped a shot at No. 4. Then his round really got going. On 6, a par 3, his tee shot rolled to within 6 feet, and he made the birdie putt.
“Be perfect. Be perfect,” Woods said as his iron shot sailed toward the green.
NO REPEAT FOR LEFTY
Phil Mickelson won’t be rolling through the Krispy Kreme drive-thru in his green jacket anytime soon.
Lefty could never get his putter going, costing the defending champ any chance he had of winning a fourth Masters title. His 74 on Sunday was his worst round of the week, and he finished tied for 27th at 1 under.
“I struggled with the blade again today and it was a frustrating week, really, putting,” Mickelson said. “I love these greens. I usually putt them very well, but I struggled this week.”
No Australian player has ever won the Masters, but Adam Scott, Jason Day and Geoff Ogilvy gave it their best shot in this year’s event.
Scott and Day finished tied for second at 12 under, and Ogilvy was two shots back, tied for fourth.
“Well, it will be received really well (back home),” Scott said. “For the first time in a few years, they’ve really had something to get up for (in the final round) and watch.”