AUGUSTA, Georgia, April 14, 2013 (AFP) – For Tiger Woods, the long wait for a 15th major title continues.
The 37-year-old American briefly threatened the leaders going down the back nine in the final round of the 77th Masters on Sunday, but he had left himself with too much to do and he eventually had to settle for a tie for fourth place.
That means that by the time he tees off at Merion Golf Club in the US Open in June it will be five years since he last won one of the big four titles.
It also means that he will need to wait another year to add to his Masters green jackets, his fourth and most recent coming in 2005.
Woods’ driving ambitions are to match and better the record 18 majors won by Jack Nicklaus and to overhaul the record six Masters wins by Nicklaus.
Starting the day four strokes behind joint leaders Brandt Snedeker and Angel Cabrera, Woods said that he believed he had an outside chance of winning a major while coming from behind for the first time.
“I thought 65 would win it outright today,” he said.
“I thought that was going to be the number. Maybe eight or nine under. So who knows, if I would have shot my number, it might have been a different story.”
Woods made no inroads into the lead early on, opening with four straight pars and when he dropped shots at the sixth and seventh, it looked like his chances had vanished.
“I had a hard time getting accustomed to the speed (of the greens),” he said.
“The speed was so much slower than it was yesterday, and that was before it rained. Then they changed pretty dramatically. I struggled hitting putts hard enough. Every putt I left short for probably the first eight holes.”
But coming down the back nine, the world number one suddenly sparked into life with birdies at 12, 13 and 15. He had a chance to pick up another shot at the 16th, but narrowly missed a short putt and his challenge was over.
Woods came into Augusta National on a strong high after three wins in the United States this year that propelled him past Rory McIlroy to the world number one spot and he declared himself fully-fit and mentally in tune.
He was close to taking the lead in Friday’s second round when bad luck struck at the 15th hole as a perfect pitch hit the flagstick and spun back into a water hazard.
He got away with a six but worse was to follow the next day when he was handed a two-stroke penalty for an improper drop, turning an unfortunate six into a damaging eight.
Asked whether that had been on his mind at all during his final round, Woods said: “Absolutely not.
“I got to focus on what I need to do, where I need to place the golf ball and shoot the lowest score I possibly could at that moment.”
Woods will next turn his focus on Merion for the US Open in June and Muirfield in the east of Scotland for the British Open in July for his next chances to bag that elusive 15th major.