Tiger Woods came into Augusta National this week as the hot favorite to end his Majors drought and prove to the world that he deserved the World No. 1 ranking.
He had, after all, been stuck on 14 Majors for over five years now and was desperate to end that streak. Returning to his favorite course, in arguably the best form he's ever shown coming into the tournament, seemed like the perfect chance for that to happen, but alas, it was not to be for Woods.
The World No. 1 finished in a tie for fourth—left to rue some frustrating bogeys over the final two days and a controversial two-stroke penalty that seemed to drag all the attention away from his actual golfing.
But, at the end of it all, he still finished fourth.
Woods still showed some of the talent and form that have seen him soar up the world golf rankings this year and emerge with many event victories in 2013. What's more, he showed some of the mental toughness that he's been forced to develop over the last few years given all that's transpired—both on and off the field—and used that to bring himself back into contention here.
After the two-shot penalty, it seemed incredibly unlikely that Woods would storm back to victory (especially with the weather situation), but that didn't stop Tiger from closing the gap considerably until the final few holes saw the leaders kick away again.
A fourth-place finish is definitely something that Woods should walk away proud about—not something we should be criticizing and stickling him for.
Rory McIlroy, Phil Mickelson, Justin Rose, Luke Donald, Louis Oosthuizen..
All golfers currently inside the top 10 in world golf, and yet they all spectacularly disappointed over the week and are receiving less stick than Woods.
Who finished fourth, remember? Or have we all seemingly forgotten that fourth place at the Masters, in the driving rain, is still an incredible achievement?
ESPN Stats & Info @ESPNStatsInfo
Tiger Woods finishes tied for 4th. That's his 11th Top-5 finish at the Masters, trailing only Jack Nicklaus (15)4/15/2013, 12:00:52 AM
Many legends of golf were quick to criticize Tiger for his performances on the weekend (via theaustralian.com, subscription required), with Nick Faldo's "he's not back until he wins a Major" perhaps the most cruel of them all—seemingly quick to forget the stellar showing that Woods had put on for several holes of the hallowed course this year.
At the end of the day, Tiger's performance here was not a disappointment. In fact, even with the pressure, it was the furthest thing from a disappointment.
Sure, he'd have loved the Major victory, but at the end of it all, it wasn't as if he sputtered at Augusta this year. He played good golf for 80 percent of the weekend and he achieved the final standing that he deserved in 2013.
Woods showed that his Majors streak is capable of being broken, and if he can stay mentally strong, then his solid form will bring about the end of that drought.
With three Majors left in 2013, who knows—it might be sooner than we think.
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