AUGUSTA, Ga. – The Tiger Woods who showed up at Augusta National this week is not the same one with which the throngs of patrons here are familiar.
Not on the tee box. Not in the fairways. And for the most part, not on the greens.
Woods capped off a poor ball-striking week with a 2-over 74 on Sunday and finished the tournament at 5 over. That ties the worst 72-hole Masters score of his professional career.
“I didn’t hit the ball very good this week, and what’s frustrating is I know what to do, and I just don’t do it,” said Woods, who was followed by deep galleries despite being out of contention by the weekend. “I get out there and I just don’t trust it at all. I fall back into the same old patterns again, and I just need to do more reps. Thank God my short game was good this week and my putting was really good. Unfortunately they were all for pars, not for birdies.
“If I look back on the week, I played the par 5s atrociously. This is a golf course you just have to dominate the par 5s, and I did not do that at all this week.”
Atrocious might be an understatement.
Woods had only two birdies in 16 attempts on Augusta’s longest holes, one coming at No. 2 on Sunday and the other at No. 8 on Thursday. He didn’t make a single birdie at Nos. 13 or 15 all week. He entered the week 84 under on those two holes in 66 career rounds at Augusta.
After hitting his first five fairways on Sunday, Woods only hit two of the next nine. For the week, he only hit 28 of 56. That makes it difficult to hit greens in regulation, and he only hit 40 of those.
Earlier this week, Woods said old swing habits crept into play and were causing him to hit wayward shots. He didn’t back off that feeling Sunday.
“With all the different changes I’ve made in my game over the years, you’re never past (the changes),” Woods said. “You’re still always working on little things. I know the big things that we’re working on are done, but it’s the little things, too, now. The details sometimes can be magnified. Especially on a golf course like this, it doesn’t take much.
“When you get into tough situations, you revert back to your old motor patterns because it’s not new enough yet, and that’s kind of what happened to me this week.”
Woods had only 114 putts over four rounds, which left him among the top 20 in the field in that category. He also had two three-putts, so the problems he had with the putter earlier this year seem to be coming around.
Woods has not announced his next tournament start. The Players Championship is the second week of May, and Woods is likely to play before then.
“You’re not going to play well every week,” said Woods. “Unfortunately it was this week for me. I had the wrong ball‑striking week at the wrong time. You know, just got to keep building, keep working and keep progressing.”
Woods seems to have taken one major step backward this week.