Tiger Woods in his prime probably would have been stewing over a tie for 32nd at the Masters. Disregarding his missed cut as an amateur in 1996, it was his worst finish at Augusta apart from a tie for 40th in 2012. But for a guy playing in his first major since the 2015 PGA Championship thanks to a seriously messed-up back, the 1-over-par finish was a sign that things are rounding back into form.
“I think things are progressing,” Woods said after his final-round 69 on Sunday, per Golf Digest. “It was a little bit disappointing I didn’t hit my irons as well as I needed to for this particular week. You miss it just a touch here it gets magnified. And I just didn’t do a good enough job this week in that regard. But, overall, I’m five or six tournaments into it. To be able to compete out here and to score like I did, it feels good.”
His irons were indeed bad: “From 150 in it was not very good, which isn’t like him,” Joe LaCava, Woods’s caddie, told Golf Digest. So was his putting: Woods missed five putts from inside six feet and had two three-putts on Sunday, foiling his stated goal of an even-par tournament. Still, that he made the cut and then put together a respectable final round of 3 under par on the biggest stage in golf is a sign that Woods is on his way back after two years away from the game.
But now, after playing in six tournaments over a 10-week span, it’s time for a break, which is hardly unusual for Woods after the Masters. The thinking is that we’ll next be seeing him at Quail Hollow for the Wells Fargo in three weeks followed by the Players Championship, an event he’s won twice (most recently in 2013, just as his body was beginning to break down with injuries). Even farther down the road is the U.S. Open, played this year at Shinnecock Hills on Long Island. At the most recent U.S. Open there, in 2004, Woods finished in a tie for 17th, 14 shots behind winner Retief Goosen.
“Generally after this tournament, I put away the clubs for a while,” Woods told ESPN. “I usually take three to four weeks off, through my entire career, and usually the clubs are put in the closet, and I just kind of get away for a while.
“The run-up to this event is pretty hard and pretty grueling. I pushed myself pretty hard to get ready. And I peaked at it four times [in his Masters victories] over the course of my career, and it’s tiring.”
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