The ubiquitous “What if?” quickly popped up after his round Sunday, but Tiger Woods doesn’t talk like that – at least not publicly.
Woods, still playing catchup after the two-stroke penalty from his illegal drop at No. 15 on Friday, needed to make a move at four back going into his fourth round. On slower greens, his early putts came up short, and although his final round 70 put him into the top five, he remains stuck at 14 majors.
“Well, we could do that ‘What if?’ in every tournament we lose,” Woods said. “We lose more tournaments than we win out here on tour, so that’s just part of the process and I’ll go back to it.”
Woods, who has never won a major without at least sharing the lead going into Sunday, didn’t get a birdie until No. 9.
“I really struggled with the green speeds starting out,” he said. “I couldn’t believe how much slower they were, even before it rained. … So finally on 9 I said, ‘I’m going to hit this putt past the hole,’ and it just snuck in on the front lip.”
Woods got another birdie on No. 10. But because of two bogeys on the front nine, he didn’t reach under par for his round until his birdie on the par-5 13th, where he left a lengthy eagle attempt short.
He failed to convert another eagle chance on No. 15, once again making birdie.
That put him three back, but he got no closer. With the gallery ready to roar on No. 18, Woods almost holed out his shot from the bunker for a birdie.
Afterward, much talk centered on Friday’s incident on No. 15 and the two-shot penalty for a bad drop.
Woods said that he saw the photos in The Augusta Chronicle that showed his two shots on No. 15 side by side and he might have been closer than he estimated he was.
“One, two yards, but it certainly was not as close as the rule says,” he said.
He said he thought 65 would win it for him, but his 33 on the back nine came after 1-over on the first nine.
“It’s just the way it goes,” Woods said. “As I said, I had my opportunities to finish with some good numbers this week and I felt like I really played well. I played this week the way I’ve been playing all year, and that’s a good sign.”