Aiming for career major win No. 15 by way of his fifth green jacket, Tiger Woods will not add another jacket to his closet in 2013.
What has been a wild week for Woods (both on the course and through the committee) ended on Sunday afternoon at the historic Augusta National Golf Club, as Woods turned in a two-under 70 on his final scorecard of 2013's first major championship. He finished the tournament at five-under, tied for fourth with Marc Leishman. Adam Scott took home the green jacket at nine-under par after surviving a playoff against Angel Cabrera.
After a slow start and two bogeys through his first seven holes, Woods roared back at the turn to put himself in contention down the stretch.
Starting with a birdie on No. 9, he found his familiar rhythm and pace at a course that has been friendly to his final round on four previous occasions.
Returning to the site of his infamous eight-stroke hole on Friday, Woods felt no ill-effects from the memories of Friday's events.
If you'll remember, the 15th hole is the spot of the now well-known drop that forced the tournament committee to collectively discuss whether Tiger violated the drop zone and should be disqualified. They instead gave Woods a two-stroke penalty—which should be kept in mind when the final standings are released on Sunday afternoon.
He hit a sparkling approach that gave him an eagle putt and managed to finish a birdie that put his score at five-under par heading into the final three holes.
After missing a birdie putt on 16 that would have put Woods at six-under, he finished his day with an impressive four birdies in the final 10 holes and headed to the clubhouse needing a lot of help to win the tournament outright or force a playoff.
All in all, Tiger had a nice day on Sunday.
Make no mistake, Woods is the No. 1 golfer in the world for a reason.
He didn't make the necessary putts in key moments to crawl back into a position of strength on Sunday, but he also didn't fade down the stretch and played his best golf with his back up against the wall. In fact, this tournament will likely be remembered as the one Tiger lost two strokes at and still wound up in the top 5.
Now that his day is over, let's take a look at how he managed to finish five-under at the 2013 Masters, and what it might mean for the rest of his 2013 PGA Tour and major tournament season.
Tiger Woods' 2013 Masters Round 4 Scorecard
|Score ||4 ||5||4||3||||3||||5||(3)||37|
Note: Birdies and eagles appear in bold and (), and bogeys in italics and .
Tiger got off to a terrible start to his final round.
Hooking his tee shot out of the box on No. 1, he did well to find the green with his second on the first hole before finding himself in similar trouble on No. 2—the all important first of the four par-five holes at Augusta.
In the pine straws on the left-hand side, Woods managed to work his way out of trouble. He got to the green in three and had a chance at an important birdie putt, but instead missed his shot short—a hallmark of the front nine on Sunday and likely his 2013 tournament, too.
Woods has been great in the middle part of his game (irons), but he was plagued by an inability to hit the putts he needed to climb up the leaderboard and put pressure on those behind him.
After missing out on birdie chances on three-straight holes, Woods then fell victim to a bogey on No. 5. He had a chance to redeem himself on the par-three No. 6, where he birdied on Thursday, but settled for another par before dropping another stroke at No. 7.
At the turn, Woods decided he wasn't going to go home without a fight.
Facing the brink of elimination with the rest of field comfortably with a large stroke lead, Woods birdied Nos. 9, 10 and 13, climbing to four-under for the tournament and the closest he had been to the top of the leaderboard (Angel Cabrera was four strokes up at the time) since he teed off on Sunday afternoon.
The 15th was a great hole for Woods, but again, he couldn't pick up an extra stroke with a long eagle putt. Woods has been great on par-fives at the Masters in his career (124-under coming in), but not picking up that extra stroke on 15 or 16 ended up being quite the crutch for the rest of the round.
Woods hit another masterful par-three tee shot on Redbud with a chance to again move to six-under par. He could not convert, however, and ended up parring out on both No. 17 and No. 18 with six golfers behind him yet to finish their rounds.
No matter what happens when the final curtain is dropped (likely not a Woods victory with five other guys ahead of him on the leaderboard), this was a big step for Tiger.
After a disappointing finish here in 2012, Woods made steps to keep his name in contention after a disaster of a hole on Friday at No. 15 and still managed to hit shots down the stretch that kept the gallery breathless until the result of his putts were over.
Looking ahead, Woods is still the man to beat.
We're certainly getting tired of the same old rhetoric that places Tiger in the group of guys who can't make putts when it matters, but his ability to maintain contention after a fluke shot that hit the pin and went into the water on Friday was quite impressive in the overall scheme of things.
With three major championships yet to play this season and a number of other chances to add to his three 2013 PGA Tour wins so far, Woods played solid golf at Augusta.
He has plenty to build on for the next few months of his yearly schedule—something he couldn't say this time last year.