AUGUSTA, April 11 – Tiger Woods can still put on a shotmaking show that stirs roars from spectators that echo through the towering pine trees at Augusta National.Whether or not he still has what it takes to win the Masters, or any other tournament, remains to be seen.
Woods fired a five-under par 67 on Sunday and briefly grabbed a share of the Masters lead on the front and back nines but settled for a share of fourth for the second year in a row, finishing 72 holes on 10-under 278.
The 14-time major champion has not won in 22 starts since his infamous sex scandal erupted in November of 2009, having spent much of the time working on charges to his swing motion that ease damage on his surgically repaired knees.
"I had to be committed to my spots and I did that all week," Woods said. "This entire weekend I hit it good so that was a nice feeling."
Woods, chasing the record of 18 major titles won by Jack Nicklaus, has not finished better than he did Sunday since his comeback began last April at Augusta National.
He has not won a Masters since 2005 and not won a major title since the 2008 US Open, but was a winner in 2009 at a US PGA Tour event at Congressional Country Club, where the next major, the US Open, will be played in June.
Woods fired a 66 on Friday to lift himself from flirting with the cut to contention, but consistency was missing as it has been during his win drought> He failed to follow up with a strong round, soaring to a 74 on Saturday.
That left Woods seven off the pace of Rory McIlroy and sharing ninth to start the final round. Woods blistered the front nine for a 31, serving notice he would not easily surrender to young leaders who were inspired by him.
Birdies at six and seven and an eagle at eight pushed him to 10-under and after a long par save at nine was just behind McIlroy.
"When you are playing with Tiger on Sunday and he’s making a charge up the leaderboard, it doesn’t get much better," said Scotsman Martin Laird, who played alongside Woods on Sunday.
"It was a lot of fun. His golf swing, hitting shots, he hit some of the best shots you’ll ever see today."
Woods, 35, was greeted by applause at the 12th tee but departed the 12th green shaking his head after a bogey.
While he pulled back the stroke with a birdie at 15 that tied him for the lead, he could not make a back-nine charge to turn contention into a fifth career Masters green jacket.
"I got off to a nice start there and posted 31 and then on the back nine could have capitalized some more," Woods said.
"I still stayed (patient). It was just shot for shot. You can get aggressive. You can lose it. This course baits you into doing that."