Tiger Woods saved his best for last at The Players Championship. Unfortunately, it wasn't nearly enough to catapult him anywhere near the leaders.
Woods finished his tournament in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, with a three-under 69 on Sunday, taking him to six under overall. But he went into the clubhouse eight strokes behind the leaders, Rory McIlroy and Jon Rahm, who at the time sat at 14 under.
Despite being out of contention coming into the day, Woods played well, finishing with four birdies and a bogey. He had a driving accuracy of 85.7 percent, hit 66.7 percent of his greens in regulation and gained 1.15 strokes putting, per PGATour.com.
Woods was lukewarm on his performance at The Players after Sunday's round, though there were positives to take away from his showing (h/t Dan Kilbridge of Golfweek):
"I missed a few putts that I could have very easily got the momentum going that could have gotten me on a run. I was close. … It just, the wind swirls and you have fairways that are tough to hit and then you have the greens that are tough to hit and put it in the right sections, and if you don’t, you’re going to be standing on your head hitting some shots. So only had a few of those this week, so all in all it was a solid week."
Namely, he felt like his driver was strong throughout the tournament.
"I'm excited the way I drove it. I drove the ball well this week," he said. "I drove it not quite as long on the weekend with a little bit cooler temperatures, but I was driving it pretty straight and I was able to shape the golf ball both ways with all three of my woods, which was good to see."
As for Sunday, Woods started off strong, with three birdies on the front nine and some truly beautiful shots mixed in:
He kept the positive momentum going on the 11th:
A bogey on No. 14—and six pars on the final seven holes—leveled out his round overall. But there was still more good from Woods than bad, who shot under par in three of his four rounds and shot even on Saturday.
As for heading into the upcoming Masters, Woods feels like his game is progressing nicely.
"It's right on track," he said. "I feel like I'm able to start—I'm able to shape the golf ball both ways, which I'm going to need there. Just need a few more putts go in, but that's about it."
Granted, his results might somewhat contradict that optimism:
Of course, the days of Woods being a top contender are probably behind him. He's shown flashes of greatness, namely toward the end of last season, but maintaining a high level of play has proved difficult, especially as he manages his health and back.
At The Players, that meant Woods was never really a part of the main narrative. Players like McIlroy and Rahm, among others, have taken that mantle over the weekend. But Woods continues to intrigue and has played just well enough to suggest that a breakthrough could yet come this season.