Tiger Woods didn't win the Masters. He was the heavy favorite heading into the first major of the year and held a share of the lead for a while on Friday. Even though he came up short in the end, his strong finish bodes well for his chances in the year's remaining majors.
Four strokes, which was the deficit between Woods and playoff participants Adam Scott and Angel Cabrera, would normally be a lot in a tournament with a winning score of nine-under par. But for Woods it amounted to one hole.
His approach shot on No. 15 during the second round could have easily nestled right next to the hole for an easy birdie. Instead, it struck the flagstick and rolled into the water. After plenty of hoopla before the third round, a two-stroke penalty was assessed on the ensuing drop.
Woods' potential birdie morphed into a triple bogey and he was never able to fully recover. Yet, despite the incredible setback on one hole, he was still in the mix throughout the weekend and was one incredible round—the type he's still capable of when everything is clicking—from winning.
It didn't work out that way. Instead, he put together two solid, unspectacular rounds and settled in a tie for fourth as Scott claimed the green jacket. Woods did play four-under golf over his final 10 holes, but it was too little too late.
When you put the entire tournament in perspective, it's still easy to see why Woods entered as such a heavy favorite and why there's still a very good chance he will claim at least one major in 2013.
Few times over the course of four rounds did it feel like he was in the zone. It rarely felt like he was playing at the level that allowed him to win three of four stroke-play events on the PGA Tour prior to teeing it up at the Masters.
His approach shots weren't landing with the same type of pinpoint accuracy he's been enjoying lately. The one that did came back to haunt him.
He wasn't knocking in the mid-range putts that were rolling into the middle of the cup in those prior events. Many of them lagged short.
Some of those issues can be attributed to the always difficult Augusta National Golf Club course. But, for the most part, it was Woods just failing to execute at the unmatched level he's capable of.
Those other victories, which came at the Farmers Insurance Open, Cadillac Championship and Arnold Palmer Invitational, are nice résumé builders for one of the best golfers in history. None of them carry anywhere near the weight of a major, though.
Until Woods wins one of those four marquee events, questions will remain despite his return to the No. 1 ranking. His next chance comes in June in the U.S. Open at Merion Golf Club. It will be followed by the Open Championship and PGA Championship.
Based off his play leading up to the Masters and during the final 10 holes on the fourth round, it would be a surprise if Woods doesn't win at least one of those events. Winning a major is the last thing to accomplish as part of his comeback.
It will come in 2013.