Tiger Woods made an early move Sunday by making birdies on two of his first three holes. He added two more on the side to make the turn in 4-under-par 31, but couldn’t sustain his momentum.
Woods reeled off nine-straight pars on the back nine and finished with a bogey-free, 4-under-par 66 to tie for eighth in the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club, an event he has won seven times.
“My tee to green game today was I think pretty dialed in,” said Woods. “I was hitting it long, I was hitting it straight, and my irons I was shaping both ways in all different trajectories with the wind blowing. That was about as absolute high a score as I could have shot today.”
Tiger finished with a score of 4-under 276, nine strokes behind winner Keegan Bradley.
The start of play was delayed for two hours and 45 minutes due to heavy rain and wind, with about an inch of rain falling. When play finally began, tournament officials allowed players to lift, clean and place golf balls in their own fairway.
Paired in a threesome with Kyle Stanley and Matt Kuchar, Woods started the final round at even par, eleven strokes behind Jim Furyk. After parring the first hole, Tiger birdied the 526-yard, par-5 second hole, where he hit a short pitch shot two feet from the hole.
Tiger just missed a 12-foot birdie attempt at the 442-yard, par-4 third hole, then poured in a 35-foot birdie putt at the 471-yard par-4 fourth.
Following pars at 5 and 6, Woods hit a nice tee shot at the 219-yard, par-3 seventh hole that stopped 13 feet from the cup and sunk the birdie putt. He two-putted the par-4 eighth hole for a par from long range, then closed the side in style, hitting a beautiful approach shot from the left rough to just inside two feet at the ninth.
On the back nine, Tiger collected nine-consecutive pars in breezy conditions, never sniffing a bogey. He missed several good birdie chances, but just couldn’t find the hole.
At the 418-yard, par-4 11th, Woods burned the right edge of the cup from 21 feet, bending his knees in frustration. He had another near-miss at the par-4 14th, flirting with the hole from off the back fringe.
Tiger hit good shots, but was unable to hit the ball close with his irons, even with the soft greens. He missed birdie putts of 23 feet on 15, 14 feet on 16, 20 feet on 17 and 18 feet on 18.
On the positive side, for the second day in a row, Woods hit 83 percent of the greens in regulation. He also found 71 percent of the fairways and used 29 putts.
While Tiger knows he left a lot of putts on the course, it was even tougher playing with the always-smiling Kuchar, who took only 20.
“You know playing with Kuch today was a joke,” he smiled. “Twenty putts is not too bad, three chip-ins. It was amazing. I never saw the guy all day and we had the same score. Good stuff.”
Tiger returns to competition next week in the year’s last major, the 94th PGA Championship at the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island Resort in South Carolina.
“I putted well the last two days, which is good,” he said. “And more importantly, I hit the ball on my start lines, and that’s something I did not do the first two days. I misread a couple, but that’s just the way it goes. I’m very excited about going into next week.”