Tiger Woods arrived at Augusta National as a favorite to win his fifth green jacket. Instead, he left with his worst score as a pro.
A 74 on Sunday put Woods at 5-over 293 for the Masters in Augusta, Ga., which was his worst four-round score since he posted the same number as a first-time amateur back in 1995. He shot a 291 in 2007, but that was good enough for second that year, when it was windy and bitterly cold. When he left the course Sunday, he was tied for 41st, the same spot he finished in 1995.
“It was an off week at the wrong time,” he said.
Woods never broke par on the course where he was so dominant that Masters officials were accused of trying to “Tiger-proof” it when they redesigned parts of it. Worse, he was just 1 under for the week on the par 5s, where he normally collects birdies by the handful.
“If I look back on the week, I played the par 5s atrociously,” he said. “This is a golf course you just have to dominate the par 5s, and I did not do that at all this week.”
Expectations that Woods would win again skyrocketed two weeks ago when he won at Bay Hill — his first PGA Tour victory in 30 months. But things began unraveling when he closed with back-to-back bogeys Thursday, and he went into a full-scale meltdown Friday with a flurry of wayward tee shots, blocked approaches and missed putts from close range.
He cursed the bad shots or took mock swings in anger — sometimes doing both. After a poor tee shot on 16, booted his 9-iron about 15 yards.
The boorish behavior drew criticism from some fans, and he could be subject to discipline by the PGA Tour.
Tour policy states that players can be disciplined for conduct unbecoming a professional even at tournaments that are co-sponsored or approved by the PGA Tour, such as the major championships. The tour doesn’t comment on discipline, however, so whether he’s fined might never be known.
“It’s just the way it is,” Woods said Sunday. “I’m trying to compete, and unfortunately I just didn’t play well this week.”
Woods has been stuck on 14 major championships, four shy of Jack Nicklaus’ record, since winning the U.S. Open in a playoff in 2008 — on a broken leg, no less. Since then, there’s been the sex scandal that cost him his marriage and several sponsors, and injuries have kept him off the course for long stretches.
Now his problem is his swing. He’s been reworking it with Sean Foley for more than 18 months, and it remains a work in progress.
“What’s frustrating is I know what to do, and I just don’t do it. I get out there and I just don’t trust it at all,” Woods said. “I can get it on the range, I can get it dialed in there. We’ll work on the same things and it feels really good, and I go to the golf course and I just don’t quite trust it. It just means I just need to do more reps.”
Can’t win a major
Sergio Garcia thinks the only major title he’ll ever have is this: best player never to win one.
Garcia told Spanish reporters after a dismal third-round round at the Masters in Augusta, Ga., that he doesn’t think he’s capable of winning a major, and he didn’t back off the comments Sunday.
“Everything I say, I say it because I feel it,” he said. “If I didn’t mean it, I couldn’t stand here and lie like a lot of the guys do. If I felt like I could win, I would do it. Unfortunately at the moment, unless I get really lucky in one of the weeks, I can’t really play much better than I played this week. And I’m going to finish 13th or 15th. What does that show you?”
Just 19 when he had a spectacular showdown with Tiger Woods at the 1999 PGA Championship, Garcia was supposed to give Woods a fight for the title of greatest player of their generation. He’s hardly been a washout, with 10 victories on the European Tour and another seven on the PGA Tour.
But he’s never quite lived up to his star billing, either. At 32, he’s now 0-for-54 in the majors.
Not that he hasn’t had chances. He finished in the top 12 at the last three majors of 2011, and went into the third round at Augusta National a stroke behind the leaders. But he took himself out of contention with a 3-over 75 that left him 8 strokes back, and then unburdened himself to Spanish reporters.
“That’s the reality. I’m not good enough and today I know it. I’ve been trying for 13 years and I don’t feel capable of winning,” Garcia said. “I don’t know what happened to me. Maybe it’s something psychological. ... After 13 years, my chances are over. I’m not good enough for the majors. That’s it.”
Garcia got off to a rough start Sunday with a double-bogey on the first hole. But he rebounded with back-to-back birdies, and finished with a 71 that left him at 2 under for the tournament.
But for yet another major, Garcia is heading home empty-handed. Asked what he thinks is missing, Garcia said, simply, “Everything.”
Bo Van Pelt’s 5-year-old son reminded him the other day that it has been a while since he had a hole-in-one. Evidently, all he needed to do was ask. Van Pelt sank a 6-iron on the par-3 16th as part of his back-nine 30 in a round of 64. Adam Scott also aced the same hole on the way to a 66.