Tiger Woods suffers putting woes (again), fires lackluster Sunday 72 at Memorial

Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Tiger Woods suffers putting woes (again), fires lackluster Sunday 72 at Memorial

PGA Tour

Tiger Woods suffers putting woes (again), fires lackluster Sunday 72 at Memorial

Tiger Woods did little on a mediocre Sunday at Muirfield Village, firing a closing Even-par 72 to finish at 9 under and drop from the top 10 to a tie for 23rd at the Memorial Tournament.

It was a disheartening drop. Woods actually had a share of the lead late Saturday before a pair of late three-putt bogeys dampened his round and ended up pushing him five back entering the final day.

Still, the 42-year-old had a chance on a Sunday where tee times were moved up due to expected inclement weather – especially considering he’d previously won this event five times.

Woods’ day began on a high note when he drained a left-to-right curler from 14 feet for birdie. The good vibes continued despite missing birdie opportunities from 19 and 11 feet, respectively, at Nos. 2 and 3, and he moved within three of the lead when he two-putted for birdie at the par-5 fifth to reach 11 under.

But little went right thereafter.

Woods could only manage a quartet of pars to finish his front nine in 2-under 34 and had fallen six behind by he time he was putting on the par-4 10th, as Patrick Cantlay had gone on a birdie run in the meantime.

The dagger seemed to come when, after hitting a beautiful wedge following a forced layup at the par-4 10th, Woods pulled a 3-foot par putt. The stroke never had a chance and Woods had made a shocking bogey. He was now seven back and essentially out of contention at that point.

A bounceback birdie came at the par-5 11th, but Woods missed an 8-foot birdie putt at the par-3 12th to gain more momentum. It all went away for good when he flailed his drive way right and out of bounds at the par-4 13th. He actually ended up making a great bogey, but he was 10 under again, and the wind appeared to be fully out of his sails at that point.

The slide continued with more putting woes at the par-3 16th. Woods hit his 45-footer for birdie some four-and-a-half feet left of the cup and lipped out the comebacker. It was a three-putt bogey, and after creeping near the top five earlier in the day, Woods was now in a tie for 22nd.

His position stayed nearly the same (he was T-23 when he reached the clubhouse) with a pair of closing pars.

There’s certainly a mix of positives and negatives from this week.

The pros are that this was maybe Woods’ best ball-striking performance in his comeback, as he was outright magical from tee to green for large stretches of this event and was never really off kilter there except early on Thursday. He also continued to show his ability to fight, as Woods was 4 over through seven in this tournament and then played his next 44 holes in 15 under to surge to a tie for the lead.

This also marks his sixth top-25 finish in nine PGA Tour starts in his return.

But Woods’ putter was dreadful this week, with serious negative strokes gained: putting valuations in each of his final three rounds. He missed a number of crucial short putts, even whiffing on a couple from the 3-foot range.

Here are some stats to show what we’re talking about with the ball-striking vs. putting disparity:

That wasn’t the only bad sign.

His drops (failing to build on a hot run Friday, his late fall Saturday and middling Sunday after those first five holes) after producing strong stretches was another instance of his disturbing tendency in this comeback to fall back when he’s had a chance to contend.

Where does Woods stand heading into the U.S. Open?

It’s hard to say. There’s a lot to like, and he certainly can win his 80th PGA Tour title and first in five years if he puts everything together.

Whether he will do that any time soon, though, is a mystery.

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