The final round of the 2013 British Open was all set for a vintage Tiger Woods performance. Entering the final round, Woods was just two strokes behind then-leader Lee Westwood and had a legitimate chance to win it all.
It didn't work out that way. Tiger had a disastrous round, posting a three-over and finishing tied for sixth place.
Here's how the final leaderboard played out:
Alan Shipnuck of Sports Illustrated described the awful start to the round.
Ugh, what a start for Tiger: three-willies the first, misses shortish birdie putt on 2, fans his drive into the heather on 3.— Alan Shipnuck (@AlanShipnuck) July 21, 2013
It didn't get much better from there. He hit six bogeys and had just three birdies. His shots were off all day, as Jason Sobel of the Golf Channel explained:
That's gotta be one of the worst short chip shots that Tiger Woods has ever hit. It's at least in the discussion.— Jason Sobel (@JasonSobelGC) July 21, 2013
So what exactly happened? Why did Tiger go from being in a terrific position to playing one of the worst final rounds in a major of his career?
If anything, we should have seen this coming. After shooting an impressive opening round 69, Tiger's scores got worse as the tournament went on. He shot a 71 in the second round, followed by a 72 in the third, before finishing it up with a 74 in the final round.
While not many could have predicted Phil Mickelson's epic comeback from five strokes back, in general, golfers should be trending upward heading into the final round, not downward.
In addition, Tiger continues to struggle with his putter. He missed a number of key putts that could have resulted in birdies. Instead he settled for pars, hitting nine on the day. Take a look at how far off this putt was:
He also avoided his driver for too long. He finally brought it out on the fifth hole and immediately hit the fairway, eventually saving par on the hole. But that was the only time he used his driver. Had he used it a bit more, perhaps he would have been in a different position.
Will Tiger Woods Win Another Major?
It would be one thing if Tiger last won a major in, say, 2011, making his failures to win on the biggest stages seem like just bad luck.
But he last won in 2008. His failure to come through in the clutch is no longer a freak thing. It's a trend.
Woods is still one of the best ever. He's had no trouble winning the smaller events.
Yet now he can't win the big one. There was a time when everyone knew that Tiger was going to win. It didn't matter how far back he was. Quite simply, we would've expected Tiger to come back from five strokes down, not Phil Mickelson. As Bob Wojnowski of the Detroit News tweeted:
OK, so Tiger has hit rock bottom. He's now regularly getting out-mentally-toughed by Lefty.— Bob Wojnowski (@bobwojnowski) July 21, 2013
It's been a long time coming, but Tiger has finally fallen down to earth. His overall game is still solid, and he will be in contention in most events he competes in.
But can we expect him to win another major? Can we expect him to win a few majors? Not anymore. Whatever clutch gene he used to have has now mutated and he's now suddenly ordinary in the face of pressure.
Perhaps 10 years ago, Tiger would have won this tournament. But this is not 2003. This new version of Tiger is good. But it is no longer great.