Masters 2022: Tiger Woods wraps up with six-over 78 in unforgettable comeback after near-fatal crash

AUGUST, Ga. – Tiger Woods used to turn the weekends at Augusta National into an impressive theater, relentlessly raising the leaderboard one fearless move, one winged iron, one nervous sport at a time.

Not now. Maybe never again.

The magic that the five-time Masters champion summoned so easily for so long was nowhere to be found during another arduous four-hour journey under the pines of Georgia on Saturday. His 6-over 78 marked his worst in 93 career laps in the tournament he has reached and left him in the 7-over.

The lameness from his right leg, which was surgically repaired, became more intense with each deliberate, careful step, the 46-year-old slipped lower on the leaderboard to end any possibility – as unlikely – of being a factor late Sunday afternoon.

There was no known charge in the cold of early April. Just the fact that he was 14 months away from a serious car accident that threatened to end his career, Woods can still play golf. He just can’t do it – at least not right now – at the level he needs to play in a field made up of younger players, many of whom grew up idolizing him but have long since overcome his awe.

After a tough push back nine on Friday that helped him stay on the sidelines of the controversy, Woods went to the first jersey on Saturday two hours ahead of the leaders. Seeking to send a jolt through the gallery five feet deep into places hoping for a look and a chance to roar, Woods spent most of the afternoon silently staring at his hole or propeller – or both.

Three times he put the par-4 first of the 54 feet for a boob, a sign for things to come. In the fifth par-4, he tightened his club in disgust as his approach dragged him to the right, far away from a rear left hole. His attempt to delay from 60 feet above a ridge was very short. The 9 foot of his equalizer rolled his 3 legs and his bamboo kick hit the hole and bounced out. It was Woods’s first four in the Masters – never.

Things never got better. Three more three-pointers followed in an afternoon where nothing was really right. And it was not just his foot. It was his back. His hands. His attitude. Everything.

Worse, there seemed to be no way to compensate. It mobilized, the kind of search that is usually intended for the scope of the practice, not in the middle of a main one.

“No matter how many tests I had, you would have thought I had figured it out somewhere on the line, but it just didn’t happen,” he said.

As Woods slowly made his way to 18th Street, leader Scottie Scheffler – just 25 years old and the world’s top golfer – did his part in doing the Masters what Woods did so often in the last quarter of a century: enforcing his will along the way and in the tournament.

“We would all love to have this window two, three months old when we warm up, and hopefully the gentlemen will fall somewhere in that window,” Woods said. “We’re taking care of those windows. Scotty seems to be in that window right now.”

A window that is currently closed for Woods. While it would be easy to call his presence in Northeast Georgia this weekend a victory, given that last fall he wondered if he would ever play competitively again, Woods is not in this story to be a pleasant story. He is not interested in being a field filling ritual.

The steel of 1-under 71 in the first round on Thursday seemed to encourage him. After an unstable front-9 39 on Friday, he recovered to shoot 74 and easily get under the cutline.

It opened with another sloppy 39 on Saturday ahead. And for a few fleeting minutes shortly after making the turn, another rally seemed to be under way.

A 14-foot crunchy iron at No. 12 and a two-legged bird at par-5 13th provided a spark that never caught fire. He flew the 16th and the 17th and his approach to the hill at the 18th sailed to the gallery. His hit and run grabbed the slope and kept rolling, with Woods chasing it with passion long before he stopped almost 60 feet away from the pin.

Three more throws and his worst lap in Augusta is finally over. The 78 was one of more than 77 he collected in the third round of his first trip to Augusta in 1995.

He was an amateur then, a phenomenon of 19 years. Two years later, he was a champion. More than two decades later, he is a Hall of Famer and one of the greatest in the history of his sport. He is also a middle-aged father of two trying to recapture something far more elusive than he once was.

“Every day is a challenge,” he said. “Every day presents its own different challenges for all of us. I wake up and start the race from the beginning.”

Copyright © 2022 by the Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Masters 2022: Tiger Woods wraps up with six-over 78 in unforgettable comeback after near-fatal crash Source link Masters 2022: Tiger Woods wraps up with six-over 78 in unforgettable comeback after near-fatal crash

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