Tiger Woods, once a colossus in the final round, looks to have lost his edge when it matters the most.
Coming into the final round of the 2013 Honda Classic, Woods sat at even par. He finished at four over after shooting 74 over the final 18 holes. The back nine in particular was poor from Woods, as he recorded three bogeys and a double-bogey. It wasn't the kind of result that he wanted after winning the Farmers Insurance Open back in January.
More importantly for Woods, it's yet another final round in which he has failed to deliver.
Earlier in his career, when Woods was in his prime, the final round was when fans would watch Woods with the most interest. He'd put on the red shirt and become a completely different golfer, either suffocating the competition atop the leaderboard or making an improbable push over the final 18 holes.
It was at the Honda Classic last year that Woods shot a 62, which got fans excited that he had returned. Over that round, fans indeed did see flashes of the Woods of old. But that's just what they were, flashes that were quickly extinguished over time as he fell back down to earth.
Fast forward a year and he finishes the Honda Classic with nothing more than a whimper.
The 2013 result continues what has been a disturbing trend for Woods over the last year. In the 19 PGA events in which Woods participated in 2012, his final round score has dropped from his third round on eight occasions. When you take out the three missed cuts, that's half of his tournaments.
And it's not as if the final round is an outlier. In 2012, Woods really struggled from the third round on. In 11 tournaments, his play in the final two rounds was worse than that of the first two.
Some might argue that basing all of this off one year is a bit unfair. 2011 and 2010 were lost seasons because of injury, and Woods was clearly off his game in 2009.
At 37 years old, it's unrealistic to expect that Woods is going to be able to become the golfer he was in the late 1990s through the early 2000s. It's incredibly hard for a golfer to fully recover from the kind of knee injuries and subsequent surgeries that Woods has undergone.
But that's a bit of the problem.
People keep expecting Woods to turn it on when it means the most—being as competitive as he was and continues to be, we assume that he's not going to let anything stop him from getting to Jack Nicklaus' hallowed 18 major titles.
However, as much as he tries, Woods can't overcome the physical difficulties he's facing. Over four rounds, it's becoming increasingly difficult for him to maintain a high level of play.
Where Woods was once impervious, he's now vulnerable.
With the Masters coming up in April, Woods needs to show much more strength in the final two rounds if he's going to have any chance whatsoever of putting on the green jacket.
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