Tiger Woods saved his best for last on Sunday at the 2019 Players Championship. Unfortunately for him, the first three rounds weren’t good enough for the last one to mean much. Woods shot a 3-under 69 in Round 4 with just one bogey in soggy, cold conditions. He finished at 6-under 282 for the week. Let’s take a detailed look at his final 18 holes at TPC Sawgrass.
Front nine (3-under 33): Tiger’s front nine on Sunday was six (!) strokes better than his front nine on Saturday. Part of what contributed is that the course is playing much easier on that side, but Tiger also hit seven of nine greens and gained strokes in every category, including his putter. It was a pretty classic Woods showing on those nine holes with two birdies of 4 feet or less and one long bomb to take it a little deeper.
Back nine (even-par 36): Tiger couldn’t get it going on the back. His only two deviations from par were a birdie at the par-4 11th and a bogey at the par-4 14th. Other than that it was pretty boring golf for Woods, who made just one putt from over 4 feet on the back nine.
What went well: Big Cat drove it beautifully (I can’t believe I’m typing those words) and finished in the top five on the week in strokes gained off the tee. He also putted it nicely over his four-day stint in Jacksonville, gaining strokes on the field overall. So what went wrong?
What went poorly: Well, Tiger couldn’t find it with his approach shots, which has been the most solid part of his game over the last year (and for the entirety of his career). He nearly finished last in the field in that category both on the day and on the week as a whole. His proximity to the hole was still pretty good, but the issue was a pair of water balls. He found the drink on No. 17 on Friday, which cost him four strokes to the field. Then he lost another one and a half on Sunday when he hit it in the water on No. 16. So it wasn’t that he played lousy hole after lousy hole as much as it was that two horrific shots cost him dearly.
Quote of the day: “This is one of the most stressful golf courses you’ll ever play with wind,” Woods told NBC after his round. “I was close to putting it together but just not quite enough.”
“I had a couple little momentum hurdles I didn’t quite get over,” he added. “I made a seven over at 17. I missed a few putts here and there that could have turned the tide. It was close to getting over the hump and really getting going, but that’s what this golf course will make you do.”
Where he stands: Woods was inside the top 35 at the time he finished and will likely remain there throughout the rest of the day. It’s a bit of a fall from his T11 last year, but considering he was coming in off a strained neck and a WD last week at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, I thought it was fine. The biggest gaffe was obviously the seven on No. 17. If he would have known the rules, he apparently could have saved himself 3-4 strokes by taking a different drop. Then we’d be considering a 9-under 279 instead of a 6-under 282, and that would have a very different feel.
What’s next: I think Woods will probably tee it up at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play in a few weeks as his prep work for the Masters and Augusta National in a month continues.
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