Tiger Woods Finishes 2nd at Valspar Championship 2018 for Best Finish Since 2013

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistMarch 11, 2018

PALM HARBOR, FL - MARCH 11:  Tiger Woods reacts on the second green during the final round of the Valspar Championship at Innisbrook Resort Copperhead Course on March 11, 2018 in Palm Harbor, Florida.  (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Tiger Woods fell just short in his attempt to win his first tournament since 2013 on Sunday, as he shot a one-under 70 in the fourth round of the Valspar Championship and finished in a tie for second.

Woods entered the final round at Innisbrook Resort and Golf Club in Palm Harbor, Florida, trailing leader Corey Conners by just one stroke, but Tiger was only able to muster two birdies and one bogey on Sunday.

That line wasn't good enough to beat out Paul Casey, who shot a six-under 65 in the fourth round en route to victory—finishing one shot better than Woods.

After a dramatic birdie on No. 17, Woods had a chance to force a playoff on the 18th, but his lengthy birdie attempt didn't have enough steam.

Although Tiger didn't prevail, he registered his best finish since 2013 and his first result inside the top 10 since 2015.

On the heels of a four-under 67 in the third round, Woods began the fourth round in ideal fashion and seemed well on his way to a repeat performance.

Tiger played the par-five first hole to near perfection and finished with a birdie that moved him to nine-under on the tournament, as seen in the following video courtesy of the PGA Tour:


Fundamentally sound. @TigerWoods opens his day with a birdie. #QuickHits https://t.co/PSvqsN9ahA

That putt moved Woods into a tie for the lead, and former ESPN contributor J.A. Adande pointed out that Tiger's return to prominence made it feel like old times:

J.A. Adande @jadande

It’s Sunday, Tiger Woods is wearing a red shirt and is tied for the lead. This is the America I want to revert to.

The 42-year-old veteran gave the stroke back and fell into a tie for second just three holes later, however.

On the par-three fourth, Woods had a makeable putt for par, but he misread the line and was forced to settle for a bogey:


A bogey for Tiger. He falls to T2. https://t.co/oMJmHAIoMg

Tiger then strung together several pars in a row, although he had his fair share of chances to make up strokes along the way.

One of the closest calls came on No. 8 when Woods seemed to think he had made a huge birdie putt only for it to lip out:


😱😱😱 Brutal. 🐅 https://t.co/zKhVEQpZfM

Woods had another chance to gain some ground on the par-five 14th, but he left a long eagle putt well short and then missed the birdie try as well.

ESPN's Jason Sobel suggested that the par was somewhat deflating considering how much more Tiger could have gotten out of the hole:

Jason Sobel @JasonSobelTAN

All pars aren't created equal. Three-putt par for Tiger. Not better than most.

Tiger headed to the 17th tee trailing Casey and Patrick Reed by two strokes, which meant a birdie was essentially a necessity.

After his tee shot on the par-three hole left him 43 feet away from the cup, though, it seemed like his chances were slim at best.

Even so, Woods channeled his vintage form on the birdie attempt and drained it from long range to move to within one shot of the lead and send the crowd into a frenzy:


TIGER WOODS!!!!! 1. Shot. Back. #QuickHits https://t.co/EzmFJvu0sN

Tons of golfers and other professional athletes marveled at the putt on Twitter immediately after, including Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr:

Derek Carr @derekcarrqb

@TigerWoods you are ridiculous 🔥🔥🔥 that putt on 17 wow!

Woods still had work to do, and after Reed bogeyed the 18th, it became clear that Tiger needed only a birdie to force a playoff with Casey.

He left himself with a long approach shot on No. 18, and he wasn't able to make up the distance.

Tiger's birdie attempt was from nearly 40 yards out, but after making an even longer one on No. 17, he could not replicate the magic:


What a ride. Tiger Woods finishes 1 short of forcing a playoff. #QuickHits https://t.co/70hs4VSaBE

Woods didn't quite have the finish he wanted, but according to ESPN Stats & Info, he ended what was by far the longest drought of his career in terms of top-five results:

ESPN Stats & Info @ESPNStatsInfo

Tiger Woods clinches his first top-5 finish at a PGA TOUR event since August 25, 2013 (1,659 days). It was by far the longest stretch between top-5 finishes in his career. https://t.co/fKuIs5nLr6

Wins continue to prove elusive for Tiger, but he is currently playing better than he has in years, and it comes at an ideal time.

The Masters Tournament is less than one month away, and Woods suddenly looks like a major threat to win the fifth green jacket and 15th major title of his career.