PGA Championship 2012: 5 Holes Where It All Went Wrong for Tiger Woods
When the sun rose on Saturday morning at this year's last three major championships, Tiger Woods woke up with a victory firmly in his sights.
Fast starts over the first two days at the U.S. Open and PGA Championship left him in a tie for the lead with 36 holes to go, and at the Open Championship he was only four shots back and two spots off first.
The ultimate weekend warrior in the past, Woods seemed primed to make a run for the trophy all three times. He was the guy to surge on major championship weekends, while others faded and could only lay in his wake.
In 2012 though, a new, more fragile, Tiger emerged. At the U.S. Open, he not only lost the lead but ultimately fell out of the top 20 with a dismal final 36 holes where he took barely less than 150 strokes.
His weekend at Great Britain's version of the Open was more promising, but a Sunday triple-bogey on six and a final-day three-over-par 73 sunk his chances even on a day when Adam Scott's collapse left the door open.
Finally, was the past two days at the PGA. Tied for the lead coming into Day Three and with his experiences at the previous two majors a nice learning curve, Woods seemed poised to get major No. 15 in his third great chance of 2012.
Alas, he duplicated his mistakes. Woods crumbled to a third-round 74 (which could've been worse) and mounted no charge in his final-round 72.
It makes the viewer wonder, where exactly did Woods go wrong?
His game was there over the opening days, but matters changed as the days went on.
Which hole was the main culprit in Woods' demise?
Here are the five prime suspects.
Second Round, Hole No. 16
Through 33 holes of the tournament, Woods looked like a man on a mission.
The 14-time major champion looked well on his way to win No. 15 after climbing all the way to five under par and into the lead alone.
Although he had hit barely over half of his greens, Woods was thriving on the course, pouring in putt after putt on the perfect paspalum surfaces.
In fact, Woods had taken just 42 putts in those opening 33 holes and looked completely calm and in control of his game.
Then came hole No. 34.
There, Woods came up just short of the par-five green in two and looked in search of another birdie.
However, Woods made his first big mistake. He made a big swipe of the ball with the putter, so hard that it not only rolled well past the hole, but entirely off the green.
Woods now had to get up-and-down from a collection area just to save par, and while he did indeed do so, he had produced the first sign of trouble.
The man who had perfect pace on the greens all day had, unnervingly, lost it all in one hole.
On the very next hole, his fist putt would stop 10 feet short (and he would make the comebacker), and two holes later came his second big mistake.
Second Round, Hole No. 18
After two perplexing lag putts on 16 and 17, Woods came to 18 determined to finish off his round in style and erase any doubts going into the weekend.
A hooked drive didn't help, but a fantastic recovery shot from the hard pan left him 20 feet from the cup and in prime position to carry a one, or possibly two, shot lead going into the final 36.
It was looking good for the 36-year-old and when his putt started out it appeared his margin might indeed reach two.
But as the ball neared the hole, it fell off to the right and then rocketed a full five feet past the cup. Not only had Woods missed his opportunity to move two ahead, he needed to hole a tester just to keep his lead outright.
Well, he didn't.
The man who had made seemingly every putt he needed over the first two days hit his lousiest one of the week, walking immediately after he hit it as it pulled well left of the cup.
The frustrating bogey five still left him in a tie heading to Saturday, but it was clear that Woods had missed a great opportunity on that 18th green.
A birdie would've meant a two-shot lead and even an easy par would've given him sole possession heading into the weekend.
That could've made a big difference, but instead Woods had to settle for a tie and entered round three with a sour taste in his mouth.
Third Round, Hole No. 3
Wood's fatal mistake of the tournament may have come early in round three.
Coming into that Saturday after putting together a beautiful 71 in horrid scoring conditions the day before, Woods was looking strong in his game.
Yes, he had stumbled over the closing three holes the night before, but Saturday was a new day and he was going to seize it with a whole mess of birdies in benign conditions.
However, Woods didn't get off to the start he liked. He missed a decent look at birdie on one and when his 20-footer for bird on two lipped out, it looked like he might be in for a long day.
On three though, the tides appeared ready to turn.
Woods hit a beautiful wedge into four feet, and after Vijay Singh missed his birdie effort, this short putt was all that stood between Woods and re-tieing the lead.
The ball was going to go in and put Woods right on track.
Only, it didn't.
The putter made a dead pull and a missed four-footer resulted. It was pure agony for Woods, who could not mask his frustration.
He knew how important this putt was and knew how important a miss meant.
This was definitely the climax of Woods' tournament. Coming into the hole, the PGA was still Woods' to lose, but it became apparent that afterward it was not.
The putt had a devastating effect, sending Woods into a tailspin that saw him bogey four of his next five holes and lose all grip he had on his game.
He would fight back into contention early on Sunday, but with a missed short putt on Saturday he completely lost his stranglehold on the tournament.
Third Round, Hole No. 17
After putting out a three-over-par score over the first seven holes of his third round Saturday, Woods seemed rejuvenated on PGA Sunday.
Yes, he missed a par effort to start his day (a lingering putt left by his debacle the day before) and fell to even for the tournament, but he soon turned everything around.
He got his first birdie of the day at 11, added another at the brutal 13th and tacked on a third when his eagle putt just came up short on the 16th.
He had climbed all the way back to three under par and come from a tie for 19th all the way into the top three.
If he could birdie one of his final two holes, he would likely land in the final group, possibly giving him the momentum he needed to fire toward the lead in the afternoon.
However, Woods didn't get his wish.
On the treacherous 17th, he flailed his tee shot left, blasted his bunker (sandy area) shot 15 feet past the cup and failed to convert his par-saving effort.
While the resulting bogey didn't completely kill his chances, it severely hurt them. At that moment, Woods had momentum and he needed to carry it through to the end of the third round to get in good position to attack in round four.
He was still in contention heading into the final 18, but at two under and five shots back, his chances at victory were slim.
Final Round, Hole No. 11
And now, here is the final nail in the coffin.
Woods had in fact performed well over his first 10 holes of the final, playing them in two under par, but he had actually lost ground to an unfazed McIlroy, falling six shots behind with eight holes to play.
Knowing this, it was time for Woods to take a risk. The next three holes were some of the most brutal on the golf course, and he needed a spark soon, otherwise McIlroy would run out of sight.
This opportunity would come on 11, where the 36-year-old boomed a drive down the middle, leaving him 288 yards into what had been a basically unreachable par-five on the final day.
It was a slim hope, but if he could somehow knock this on the green in two and produce an eagle, he would be within four and might get the kick he needed to charge after McIlroy.
That was the desperate plan, but it, and his tournament dreams, fell apart here.
Woods pulled his second shot way left of the green, so far left that it left him to deal with a strange sandy surface and native grasses rather than the manicured fringe.
From there, unsure of how the ball would come out, Woods popped it short of the green and the air out of his balloon.
He then chipped up to 15 feet, and when the putt slipped by on the left, he had made a bogey six. The devastating result left him at three under par and had cost him any sort of small chance he had at the tournament.
He would drop another stroke on the way in and fail to even finish in the top 10.
Tough to believe for a guy playing such good golf over his first 33 holes.
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