Tiger Revealing Major Hole in Resume

By Associated PressApril 11, 2006, 4:00 pm
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- When the historians look back one day and chronicle everything Tiger Woods has done, it might not be at the top of the list.
Heck, it might not even be a footnote.

For now, though, you have to wonder.
When is the player who has done everything else going to come from behind in the final round and win a major?
When is Woods going to act like Arnold Palmer at Cherry Hills, Nick Faldo at Augusta National? When will he give us goose bumps like Jack Nicklaus did 20 years ago when he came roaring out of nowhere to win his sixth green jacket?
A small quibble, sure. Woods has provided enough thrills, done more for golf over the last decade than 99 percent of players will ever do in their lifetimes.
But there is a hole in his resume.
He's a frontrunner, maybe the best ever. When he goes to bed the Saturday night of a major without a lead, though, he's Clark Kent instead of Superman.
Sunday's final round at the Masters did nothing to change that.
Woods started two back, finished three back. It looked closer than it was because for much of the back nine he was five or six back.
'I felt today was the day,' Woods said of his failure to win from behind. 'If I had just putted normal, it might have been.'
It wasn't, but perhaps that was asking a lot. Woods would have had to shoot 67 to tie Phil Mickelson, 66 to win.
This is Tiger Woods, though. And great players are expected to do great things.
Especially on Sundays when the shadows lengthen in Amen Corner and the world is watching.
That's one reason Woods looked so frustrated as he fell way off the lead early on the back nine, then missed short eagle putts on the 13th and 15th holes that might have gotten the crowd roaring and given him a spark.
'I just putted atrociously,' Woods said. 'I was so in command of my golf ball from tee to green.'
If it seemed familiar, it was.
Woods missed short putts down the stretch to fall out of contention in the final round of last year's U.S. Open, and short-circuited what looked like a brilliant comeback with a three-putt in the 2002 PGA Championship to lose to Rich Beem.
That, of course, is golf. A missed putt here, a fluffed chip there is all that separates major championship winners from the Tim Herrons of the PGA Tour.
And, in the grand scheme of things, it's important to note that Woods has played in 37 major championships and has 10 trophies on his mantle. That's winning almost one in every three, by far the best of any player alive.
It's just that this is Tiger Woods, and, well, we expect even more.
The fans who got up early Sunday morning to watch Woods play the final nine holes of his rain-delayed third round certainly did. So did the thousands who came later expecting to see a shootout between the best player in the world and some of the better players in the world.
The better players did their part. Woods didn't do his.
The swing he revamped twice over the years to the great consternation of others wasn't to blame. Woods hit 10 of 14 fairways, 15 of 18 greens.
His irons on the back nine were impeccable, two of them nearly setting up eagles on the par 5s and another nearly flying in the hole on the par 3 16th where his chip-in touched off so much celebration in his win last year.
'Best I've hit it in years,' Woods said. 'Final round of a major, it's the way you want to hit it.'
Oh, but for that putter.
The stats looked bad enough. Woods needed 33 putts, averaging a full two on every green he hit in regulation. When he needed the putter the most on the final eight holes, it let him down the most.
Up close and personal, it was even uglier. So much so that caddie Steve Williams tossed the offending club to Woods' agent as they came off the 18th green with some parting instructions.
Woods wasn't in the mood to give the club a last-minute reprieve.
'This one may have to be fixed,' he said.
A few years ago, the putter may not have made it to the car. But Woods is 30 now, and he came here more reflective about both life and golf because his father is losing his fight against cancer at his California home.
This was the first Masters that Earl Woods couldn't be in Augusta with his son, and Woods said his father's illness has made him realize that there are worse things than hitting bad shots or missing putts.
That being said, this one had to hurt. Woods is ultra-competitive in anything he does, and it has to burn deep inside if anyone even suggests there is something he has not accomplished on a Sunday afternoon.
He's too good to go another 10 years without winning one from behind. He's too driven to let too many chances escape.
For now, though, there remains a glaring hole in his resume.
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