Woods returns to golf by finishing 4th at Masters
By most standards, Tiger Woods’ comeback would be deemed a
success. He contended for a fifth Masters title when some wondered
if he’d even make the cut. He took a step toward winning back fans
who were appalled by the serial cheating on his wife.
Woods didn’t see it that way.
He came back to the Masters to win, not just contend. To him,
there was no joy and no relief in tying for fourth in his first
tournament in five months, only disappointment and frustration.
“That’s not what I wanted,” Woods said Sunday after finishing
five strokes behind Phil Mickelson. “I wanted to win this
tournament. As the week wore on, I kept hitting the ball
He had vowed to tone down his emotions, try to smile a little
more, acknowledge the fans every now and then. But that even
temperament quickly faded as the poor shots piled up. He yelled at
himself several times, loud enough for the gallery to hear and the
television microphones to pick up. He flipped clubs away in
Afterward, Woods got a bit testy when asked if the new Tiger was
still a work in progress.
“I think people are making way too much of a big deal about
this thing,” he said. “I’m not going to be walking there with a
lot of pep in my step because I hadn’t hit a good shot yet.”
Woods did hit some good shots, of course. The best Sunday was an
8-iron that he holed out from the fairway at No. 7 for an eagle. He
followed with back-to-back birdies and made the turn just three
strokes out of the lead, looking as though he was ready to make a
But Woods has never come from behind on the final day to win a
major, and this one wasn’t any different.
Another errant tee shot at the 11th led to a bogey. Then, an
inexplicable three-putt from 6 feet ended his hopes at the
He did bounce back to make an eagle on the par-5 15th, but
Mickelson was pulling away at that point. A short birdie putt at
the final hole only assured that Woods tied K.J. Choi for fourth
“I had another terrible warmup,” Woods said. “I didn’t have
it. And it was pretty evident.”
He yanked his opening drive into the adjacent ninth fairway and
wound up with a bogey. Two more bogeys followed in the next five
holes, and he was on the verge of falling off the leaderboard.
Even though he turned things around before heading to the back
side, Woods never felt he was a serious contender.
“I still was pretty far out of it,” he said. “The guys were
making birdies on the easier holes and for most of the day I was
four, five, six back. It’s a long way to climb and I was still
making mistakes out there. I made too many mistakes.”
He seemed a little hard on himself.
But when Woods decided to return to golf at one of the biggest
tournaments on the schedule, a place where he had captured four of
his 14 career major titles, it was all in for the world’s
He was here for a fifth green jacket. Nothing else was
“I entered this event and I only enter events to win,” said
Woods, whose wife Elin did not attend the tournament. “I didn’t
get it done. I didn’t hit the ball good and I made too many
mistakes around the greens. Consequently, I’m not there.”
This was Woods’ first tournament since November. A Thanksgiving
night car crash had ripped his personal life apart, revealing a
golfer with an impeccable reputation who was actually leading a
sordid double life.
For a while mistresses were coming forward on an almost daily
basis. Woods went into hiding and tried to figure out how to save
his marriage. He even checked into rehab for 45 days, hoping to
learn how it all went wrong, a process of self-examination that he
admits revealed plenty of flaws.
Despite his disappointment Sunday, Woods clearly made the right
personal decision to make his return at Augusta; it exhibits more
control over ticketing and media credentials than any other
tournament. Everyone expected the fans would be polite, and they
seemed to warm to Woods as the week went on. The muted applause got
louder and louder when it became apparent he would be a
It might be different at future tournaments, where the crowds
are rowdier and the tabloid media may have more success gaining
Woods is more concerned about getting his game in shape.
“Other than my backswing going bad and my downswing going bad,
it wasn’t too bad,” he griped.
Woods said he’s not sure when he’ll play again, but the next
stop in his comeback figures to be the Quail Hollow Championship,
which begins April 29 in Charlotte, North Carolina. That would give
him a tuneup for the Players Championship the following week,
considered the biggest event on the PGA Tour outside of the four
“I’m going to take a little time off,” is all Woods would say,
“and kind of re-evaluate things.”