His bid to become the first player to win the same tournament five consecutive years fizzled Saturday at the Bay Hill Invitational when he stumbled to a 2-over 74 and fell 15 shots behind leader Stuart Appleby.
'Hey, I tried my best,' Woods said. 'It's not going to happen, but hopefully I can play well next week and get it going for Augusta. If I can win that one, I think that will be a little bit bigger than this one.'
Woods builds his career around the majors, although there was a big buzz at Bay Hill about his chances of owning the tournament run by Arnold Palmer.
And it looked as if Woods was on track when he opened with a 67, one shot off the lead.
He was never the same after that.
On Friday, he hit his second tee shot out of bounds to take double bogey, and never recovered in a round of 74. His hopes in the third round ended just as quickly.
First, Woods flubbed a chip out of the rough on No. 2 and had to make a 10-foot putt just to escape the bogey. Then, he tried to take off a chunk of the lake on the par-5 sixth, only to see his drive come about 3 feet short of land. He had to hit his third shot from the tee, hit another poor chip and made double bogey.
'I was trying to hit a high fade, and instead I hit a draw,' Woods said. 'When I do it right, it's great. When I do it wrong, I'm not keeping the ball in play on the correct sides. Hence, I have penalties.'
It was his third straight rough with a penalty shot -- Woods also hit into the water on No. 3 in the first round.
Woods was 65 under par in his last four victories at Bay Hill, but the reference Saturday was to his back-to-back rounds over par -- the first time that's happened since he was over par all four days at the PGA Championship.
While he continues to drive the ball well, his irons let him down during his bid for five straight at Bay Hill.
'Ninety percent of my shots are really good,' he said. 'It's just the other 10 percent are off the charts. If my other 10 percent are not playable, that's the problem.'
Asked to pinpoint the problem with his irons, Woods cracked, 'The takeaway, the backswing and the downswing. Other than that, it's all right.'
Woods was tied for 48th as the third round was ending.
The only time he has finished out of the top 15 at Bay Hill was in 1999 -- the year before he streak began -- when he failed to break par all four rounds, and tied for 56th at 2-over 290, 16 shots out of the lead.
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