Tiger Woods’ dream of a Masters miracle was dashed on moving day as he went backwards in tough conditions at Augusta National.
Some 500+ days after his previous competitive round of golf and 14 months on from a car crash that almost claimed his life, Woods made a remarkable comeback at a tournament he had won on five previous occasions.
No active player knows the unique test of Augusta better than Woods, and he made an impressive start on the first day.
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Things were tougher on Friday, but his knowledge of the course paid off as he made a run of birdies on the back nine to keep him in the hunt.
But he could never get things going on Saturday, with a costly four putt on the fifth taking any wind from his sails on a cold day in Georgia - and highlighting the lack of competitive golf under his belt.
Woods signed for a 78, which left him at seven-over and 18 off the lead held by Scottie Scheffler - who was still out on course - as he made his way to the clubhouse.
To actually be playing golf is a remarkable achievement, but the dream of a 16th major on Sunday is surely beyond even the talents of Woods.
“Today was constant (in terms of difficulty),” Woods told Sky Sports. “It was cooler and the ball was not travelling as far. It was tough all round.
“It seems they have put the pins in one step more difficult than normal.”
Reflecting on his standing after three rounds, Woods said: “I’m not where I want to be. I would like to shoot in the 60s and end on a positive note.
“Four three putts and a four putt was awful.”
He began with a bogey on the first, only to get it back with a birdie on the second after finding the par five in two.
Pars at three and four followed, the latter courtesy of an exquisite chip after failing to find the green with his tee shot, before it unravelled on five.
A wayward second on the fifth, when one hand came off the club, led to a costly and ugly four putt, with the ‘ohh’ from the crowd telling as big a story as Woods’ face as he trudged off the green. After a glorious tee shot, five hits to get down from 200 yards would sting.
A wayward tee shot on six led Woods to feign snapping his club, as frustration threatened to get the better of him.
The ninth summed up his day, as a decent tee shot was followed by a second he misjudged by at least a club - and a three putt led to another bogey.
Despite a bogey at 11, Woods kept grinding and one of the biggest cheers of the day greeted the curling birdie putt that dropped on 12.
The par fives have been Woods’ friend this week, and a sparkling approach with a five wood on 13 brought another birdie to get back to three over.
Woods’ lack of competitive golf showed again at 16, as he was a full club out with his tee shot - meaning he came short of the top tier. It resulted in a three putt to drop him back to four over.
Fatigue could have been an issue, as the undulations of Augusta are a tough slog, and an inexplicably bad putt on 17, as he left it short by around 20 feet, and led to a second successive bogey.
It got worse in front of the Augusta patrons on 18, as he air-mailed an approach - following a good drive - and a clunky chip sent the ball all the way to the front of the green. He sent a par putt sailing by to the tune of 10 feet and missed the return effort as his tournament unravelled with a bogey, bogey, double bogey finish.
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