February 13, 2012
Frustration for title-hungry Tiger
Tiger Woods’ long and winding journey back to the game’s pinnacle suffered another setback on Sunday when he battled his way to a final round 75 at the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.
Seeming well placed for a last-day after shooting a six-birdie 67 in the third round, the former world number one struggled on the greens as his playing partner Phil Mickelson beat him by 11 shots.
While fellow American Mickelson signed off with a flawless 64 to seal a two-shot victory, Woods totalled 31 putts to post his worst score of the week by seven strokes.
“What’s frustrating is I had a chance (to win),” a subdued Woods told reporters after failing in his bid to end a PGA Tour victory drought of more than two years. “All I had to do was get off to a good solid start today and I didn’t do that.
“I thought I could get it going in the middle part of the round but instead I went the other way.“
World number 18 Woods, who has not won a full-field event since the 2009 Australian Masters, recorded three consecutive bogeys from the seventh and failed to gain any momentum after the turn.
“I didn’t hit it as bad as the score indicated but I putted awful,“ the 14-times major champion said. “As good as I felt on the greens yesterday was as bad as I felt bad today.
“I just could not see my lines, I couldn’t get comfortable and I couldn’t get the blade to swing. Anything that I tried to do wasn’t working.
“And consequently I made a ton of mistakes on the greens,“ added Woods, whose form over the past two years has been exacerbated a swing change, injury problems and the breakdown of his marriage.
Asked whether being paired with Mickelson in the penultimate group had been a factor in his last-day struggles, he replied: “Not at all. I still had to go out there and post my number.“
Woods, four strokes off the lead overnight, made a slow start and failed to capitalise on a good birdie opportunity at the par-five second where he missed a five-footer.
Though he picked up his first shot of the day at the par-five sixth after reaching the green in two, he three-putted for bogey at the seventh and missed a five-foot par putt at the eighth.
Woods also bogeyed the ninth after finding a greenside bunker with his approach to reach the turn in two-over 38, five off the lead.
He finally produced a moment of magic when he holed out from a greenside bunker to birdie the 12th but followed up with bogeys at 14 and 15 to drop well out of contention.
His putter continued to betray him as he left an eight-foot birdie attempt short at the par-four 16th and then missed a three-footer for birdie at the par-five last.
Woods will hope his tie for 15th at Pebble Beach, where he won the 2000 U.S. Open by a record 15 shots, was a mere blip in his efforts to return to the winner’s circle on a regular basis.
In his three previous stroke-play events, he finished third at the Australian Open in November, won the limited-field Chevron World Challenge which he hosts in December and tied for third at last month’s Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship.