Tiger Woods owned the par-4 sixth hole at Royal Lytham & St. Annes the first three days of the 141st Open Championship.
And then the toughest hole at Royal Lytham struck back at an inopportune time for Woods, who took a triple-bogey in Sunday’s final round to cripple his run at the lead and send him spiraling to a 3-over 73.
After finding the fairway with a 3-wood, Woods flew his approach shot into a greenside bunker, where it buried about a foot in front of the wall of the bunker.
”One yard,” he said to his caddie, a measure of the miss.
Woods took his time in thinking about what play he’d make, eventually deciding to take a whack at it, and the ball hit the wall and bounded backward, nearly hitting Tiger in the process.
The ball landed in an even tougher position, forcing Tiger to nearly lay down to take the shot from outside the wall of the bunker, with the ball shooting off the top of the bunker and finding the green.
He noticeably came up limping after that shot and went on to three-putt from 40 feet for a triple-bogey.
The triple dropped Woods seven shots back of leader Adam Scott, but a bogey by Scott and a chip-in birdie by Tiger at the par-5 seventh got him back within four. However, he would get no closer, finishing four back of winner Ernie Els in a tie with Brandt Snedeker for third as Royal Lytham played very tough, with howling winds and tough hole locations.
It was Woods’ first triple-bogey at a major championship since he lost his ball on the opening hole at Royal St. George’s in 2003.
”The game plan was to fire it into the bank, have it ricochet to the right and then have an angle to come back at it,” Woods said. ”Unfortunately, it ricocheted to the left and almost hit me.”
It was the second time this year that one of golf’s biggest stars made triple bogey in the final round of a major while in contention. Phil Mickelson made his on the fourth hole at the Masters and never recovered. Neither did Woods.
Still, Woods had his best finish in a major since he lost to Y.E. Yang in the 2009 PGA Championship, though he remains winless in his past 17.
”It’s part of golf,” said Woods, who moves to No. 2 in the world. ”We all go through these phases. Some people, it lasts entire careers. Others are a little bit shorter. Even the greatest players to ever play have all gone through little stretches like this.”