Tiger Insists Game on the Mend

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AUGUSTA, Ga. -- A case of the stomach flu was only part of what had Tiger Woods feeling puny Sunday.
 
For the second straight year, the world's best player was barely a factor in the Masters. His 22nd-place finish was his worst in eight appearances at Augusta National as a professional.
 
He's now winless in seven straight majors and he left the course feeling yucky -- both because of something he ate at the course and because of the round of 1-under-par 71 that left him 2 over for the tournament, the same score as last year.
 
The 22nd-place finish was four spots lower than his previous worst in 1999.
 
'It's part of playing golf to not always be up there,' Woods said.
 
He said he started feeling bad around the time he reached the first tee box. By the time he got to that green, things had gone severely downhill.
 
'I was feeling cold, hot, hot, cold. I'd put on a sweater and next thing I know, I was hot,' Woods said. 'I'm glad to get it out of my system.'
 
But can he get this inconsistent play out of his system? He insists his game is close to rounding into form, although he has been too unsteady through the week, and over the last several months, to convince many people. He has finished over par in his last five majors.
 
On Sunday, he put together an unpredictable round that has been typical of his play of late -- five birdies, three bogeys, one double bogey and never quite enough momentum to mount any kind of charge.
 
He insisted he was hitting the ball well this week, even though he hit only 34 of 56 fairways and 49 of 72 greens in regulation -- both about 15 percent off his numbers when he won his second and third green jackets in 2001 and 2002.
 
'Any putt that I had within 10 feet for birdie, I didn't make them, and you have to make those,' he said. 'Occasionally, I had a couple of par putts, four or five feet, and I didn't make those, either.'
 
Next for Woods: a trip to Fort Bragg, N.C., where he'll spend four days of training, then conduct a junior golf clinic for families at the base.
 
Woods' father, Earl, trained at Fort Bragg in 1963 following a tour in Vietnam. He was assigned to a Special Forces unit there before leaving for another tour in 1970.
 
'Fort Bragg will probably be more physically difficult, but this is more of a mental test here,' Woods said. 'Physically, anybody can walk this golf course and play well here.'
 
But, he said, 'it's the mental grind' of the golf course that is most challenging.
 
Related links:
  • Leaderboard - The Masters Tournament
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  • Masters Photo Gallery
  • Arnold Palmers 50th Masters
     
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