Though the patrons applauded, Tiger Woods walked off the 18th green Sunday at Augusta National Golf Club with many empty chairs staring back at him.
It was still early in the final round of the Masters Tournament. Phil Mickelson was somewhere near the grandstand of the fourth fairway hacking his way out of contention. Louis Oosthuizen had just posted the first-ever albatross at the second hole to vault into the lead.
Though Woods’ round was over, it would take four more hours to decide the outcome of this year’s tournament. For the first time in a decade, Woods was an afterthought Sunday at the Masters.
“Unfortunately, I hit more shots than most guys did today, or this week,” he said. “I just need to get back at it and practice.”
The four-time Masters champion barely made the weekend, finishing just two strokes under the cut line after two rounds. After a Saturday round of 72, he fared even worse Sunday, shooting 2-over-par 74. He finished the tournament at 5-over 293, his worst since missing the cut as an amateur 16 years ago.
“I didn’t hit the ball very good this week,” he said. “What’s frustrating is, I know what to do, and I just don’t do it.”
A recent swing change has added to the instability of Woods’ game, and he blamed his tendency to slip back into old habits as his downfall this week.
“I get out there, and I just don’t trust it at all,” he said. “I fall back into the same old patterns again, and I just need to do more reps.”
The old patterns proved most glaring on the par-5s this week, where Woods – typically dominant on Augusta’s longest holes – finished just 1-under par. He birdied the par-5 second in Sunday’s round but bogeyed the eighth.
Woods’ second shot on the par-5 13th went into the Rae’s Creek tributary in front of the green, forcing him to take a drop and settle for par.
He also parred the 15th after flying his approach over the green.
“If I look back on the week, I played the par-5s atrociously,” he said. “This is a golf course you just have to dominate the par-5s, and I did not do that at all this week.”
Woods finished 61st of 62 golfers in fairways hit (32 of 56) and 51st in greens in regulation (40 of 72). He said the only factor that helped him even reach the weekend was his play around the greens.
“Thank God my short game was good this week and my putting was really good,” he said. “Unfortunately, they were all for pars, not for birdies.”
Woods said he didn’t know when he’ll play in his next tournament.