Tiger Woods fades late but caps great weekend at Players with top 15

Adam Hagy-USA TODAY Sports

Tiger Woods fades late but caps great weekend at Players with top 15

PGA Tour

Tiger Woods fades late but caps great weekend at Players with top 15

Tiger Woods had a rough finish, but what a weekend it was.

Woods fired a 3-under 69 on Sunday at the Players Championship to finish the week at 11 under. After making the cut on the number, he finishes in a tie for 11th.

And for a moment Sunday, a win seemed possible as Woods (for a time) lit up TPC Sawgrass’ Stadium Course again.

While Woods’ Saturday heroics – he shot 65 in Round 3 – were the product of a hot start (opening in 6-under 30), the Sunday show was more of a slow burn.

The day began sluggishly with a par-par start in a scoreable stretch. But the 14-time major champion then went to work.

Woods drained a 15-footer for birdie at the par-3 third, nestled his second at the par-4 fourth to 4 feet, rolled in the putt and buried an 18-footer at the par-4 fifth for three straight birdies. He had quickly rocketed to a tie for fourth at 11 under.

He couldn’t get an 11-footer to drop at the par-4 sixth for a fourth straight birdie, and then Woods had to grind. He made a 7-footer for par at the par-4 seventh and rolled in a 6-footer for par at the par-3 eighth to keep the momentum. After his 7-footer for birdie fell at the par-5 ninth, he had gone out in 4-under 32.

The start of the back nine brought a hint of a charge, even if it was brief. Woods pushed a 7-foot birdie effort at the par-4 10th, but he gave himself a tap-in birdie at the par-5 11th after nearly draining a 23-footer for eagle. He hit a pretty wedge to 4 feet at the par-4 12th and rolled in the putt.

At that point, Woods had moved into a tie for second at 14 under and was within five of the lead. Moments later, leader Webb Simpson would bogey and Woods was four back. The whiff of an incredible comeback was suddenly in the air as Woods was mounting a huge charge on a day where he started 11 back of Simpson.

The excitement would be short-lived. Simpson would birdie No. 11 to move back to 19 under. Woods launched a 354-yard drive down the difficult par-4 14th, but he spun a 111-yard wedge off the front of the green, putted up to 9 feet and lipped out that remainder for a demoralizing bogey.

The swift move to six behind seemed to kill any of Woods’ slim hopes of putting Simpson in the crosshairs (Simpson would go on to win by four).

Then came the day’s worst moment. Woods made a disappointing par at the par-5 16th and proceeded to dunk his tee shot in the water at the par-3 17th – as he came up woefully short.

The deflating shot was followed by a nice recovery from the drop zone, but he couldn’t coax in the 11-footer for bogey. It was a tough double bogey to take.

He then missed a good look for birdie at the 18th, relegating him to a 3-under 69 in a round where he was 6 under with six to play.

Despite a deflating finish, Woods can be proud of this weekend performance.

He hit the ball beautifully over the final 36 holes and the putter that was so cold at Qual Hollow was almost the opposite this week. Woods had really not shown much of an ability to produce stretches of hot play in his comeback.

This weekend? He was 8 under and 6 under through 12 on Saturday and Sunday, respectively. He didn’t close out either performance very well, but the Saturday showing did turn into a 65, and Woods showed twice that he can put up scorching streaks when needed.

Remember, too, that Woods was projected outside the cutline on Friday afternoon and only made it to the weekend after a couple of late errors from competitors put him on the number to get through.

He proceeded to make 14 birdies on the weekend and rocket more than 55 spots from a tie for 68th with 36 to play. And he was somehow in contention for a short moment after being 14 back with two rounds to play and 11 behind heading into Sunday.

So yeah, some kinks still need to be worked out in getting off to better starts to the week and closing out rounds with better efficiency.

But Woods remains well on his way in this comeback.

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