AUGUSTA, GA. — It was right there for Tiger Woods. Put the shot at the 15th hole on Friday afternoon — really, the shot that defined this Masters — out of the way for a moment, and Woods still had his chances to put himself directly in control of this tournament Sunday.
Instead, Woods’s closing 70 left him 5 under par for the tournament, not a score that would normally contend here. But by the end of a wet final round, only three players stood ahead of him — he was just four shots out of the playoff between Angel Cabrera and Adam Scott.
“I certainly had an opportunity today,” Woods said in an interview with CBS. “If I shot 65, I thought I could win it outright, and it looks like that might be the number.”
Indeed, he was precisely right: 65 would have left him 10 under, a shot better than Scott and Cabrera.
Woods endured his strangest Masters because his pitch at the par-5 15th in the second round clanked off the flagstick and back into the water. He later was ruled to have dropped the ball improperly, and was docked two strokes.
That set the tone for everything that followed. Woods entered the final round trailing Brandt Snedeker and Cabrera by four shots. But he could apply no pressure early on, failing to birdie the par-5 second, sliding by an eight-foot birdie putt at 3, making the first of two front-nine bogeys at the fourth. By the time he made his first birdie, at 9, he was seven shots off the lead.
He finally did make a charge — birdies at 10, 13 and 15 — but along the way, there were missed opportunities as well. The final chance to post a score that might have made competitors notice: An eight-foot birdie putt at the par-3 16th. It slid by.
“I played well,” Woods said. “Unfortunately, I just didn’t make enough putts and also missed a few shots here and there.”
The quest for his 15th major title now goes to the U.S. Open at Merion Golf Club outside Philadelphia. Woods’s appearance there will mark five years since he took his last major, the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines.
Defending champion Bubba Watson played 71 holes in even par — and the 12th hole Sunday in 7 over. That’s right, Watson took a 10 at the devilish, 155-yard par 3. Watson hit three balls into Rae’s Creek, which runs in front of the 12th green. “It’s funny,” Watson said. “If you’re not going to win, you’ve got to get in the record books somehow.”
Watson wasn’t alone. Kevin Na, who two years ago made a 16 during a PGA Tour event in Texas, also hit three balls in the creek, and also took a 10. . . .
Guan Tianlang, the 14-year-old amateur from China who is the youngest player ever in the Masters, finished with a final-round 75 that left him 12 over for the tournament — ahead of just three players. But one amazing feat: Guan had no three-putts for the week. “The whole week is great for me,” Guan said. “I really enjoy it, and I’m having fun and hopefully I play some good golf.” . . .
Phil Mickelson’s tie for 54th after a final-round 73 left him with his worst finish at a Masters in which he made the cut.