Tiger Woods couldn't keep pace with the leaders at the WGC-Mexico Championship during Sunday's fourth round, but a solid final 18 holes gave him a top-10 finish nonetheless.
Woods shot a two-under 69 on Sunday, finishing eight-under for the tournament. It was his first top-10 finish of the season, and he's now finished in the top 20 in all four of his tournaments this year.
Dustin Johnson, meanwhile, won the tournament at 21-under.
Woods started his fourth round on fire, with birdies on the first two holes.
But he cooled off a bit from there. While Woods limited his mistakes, with just one bogey for the round, he also managed just one other birdie in the final 16 holes, on No. 13.
The issue for Woods wasn't his accuracy on his approaches:
But Woods' conservative game plan seemed to play a factor in his inability to keep pace with the leaders. After his third round, the Golf Channel's Brandel Chamblee took umbrage with Woods' approach (h/t John Strege of Golf Digest):
"But here, realizing the success that a Dustin Johnson has had here in the past, and even realizing that Phil Mickelson won here playing aggressive golf, to try to come in here and play this conservative...
"And just to underscore my point, there is a stat that says the percentage of the hole covered by your tee shots on par fours and par fives, there is only one player in the entire field — and that's Matthew Millar — who is shorter off the tees on par fours and par fives. And by the way, Matthew Millar's clubhead speed is in the low 100s. Tiger Woods has clubhead speed upwards of 120 miles an hour. So just chew on that a little bit."
And Woods wasn't able to make up the difference with his putter:
Ultimately, Woods played a solid round and a very solid tournament. It was a nice result for the veteran golfer, who has continued to make positive strides over the past two seasons. And perhaps it was his conservative approach that limited his mistakes and kept him in the top 10.
But there's also the sense that Woods could have ascended even higher in Mexico City with a less conservative game plan. It will be fascinating to see if Woods lets it loose a bit more in upcoming tournaments.