Just a bit outside
The top-10 near-misses at major championships for Tiger Woods in the last decade.
June 12, 2018
By Ben Everill, PGATOUR.COM
The top-10 near-misses at major championships for Tiger Woods in the last decade.
Tiger Woods won his 14th major championship in dramatic fashion at the 2008 U.S. Open. On a broken leg, with no anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee, Woods made a famous birdie on the 72nd hole at Torrey Pines before beating Rocco Mediate in a playoff that lasted 19 holes on Monday.
Woods winced in pain throughout the week and had season-ending knee surgery soon after the victory, but not even the boldest prognosticator would’ve predicted that Torrey Pines could be the last place he would hoist a major trophy.
Woods was just 32 years old and playing some of the best golf of his career. The U.S. Open was his eighth win in 11 starts, a 10-month span in which he didn’t finish outside the five.
An almost unfathomable 10 years have passed since Woods last won a major. He hasn’t been without chances to inch closer to Jack Nicklaus’ mark of 18 majors, though. As Woods continues his major quest this week at Shinnecock Hills, we look at his 10 closest calls in majors since beating Mediate in 2008.
Woods came to the Black Course at Bethpage State Park as both the defending U.S. Open champion and the winner of the 2002 U.S. Open held at the same venue.
But dismal weather caused a multitude of delays, disrupting the flow of the event and hammering Woods’ side of the draw more than others.
He opened with a 4-over 74 that included two double bogeys and three bogeys. A second-round 69 had him just one shot ahead of the cut line at 3 over and 11 shots back.
In the third round, Woods posted a 68 to be nine shots back heading to the final round. He was only four shots out of third place, though. Ricky Barnes (-8), the 54-hole leader, and Lucas Glover (-7) may have created distance on the field but were far from being immune from major championship nerves.
And so it was to pass when in Monday’s final round – as the leaders had began to wobble – Woods made a run with birdies on the 13th and 14th holes.
The roars were felt around the state park and his opportunity, while slim, was there if he could continue the blitz and post a number. He was just three back with four to play.
But those hopes unraveled when he mis-clubbed his approach on the 15th and went over the flag into the rough. The resulting bogey meant he would settle for a tie for sixth, four shots back of Glover.
A triple-bogey 7 derailed Tiger Woods at the 2012 PGA Championship. (Ferrey/Getty Images)
Storms and weather delays were once again a theme at Kiawah Island’s Ocean Course.
While Woods finished a distant 11 shots back of Rory McIlroy’s dominant display, he did in fact find himself in contention on Pete Dye’s challenging design on the South Carolina coast.
Woods shot 69-71 in the first two rounds to share the 36-hole lead with Carl Pettersson and Vijay Singh. McIlroy was two shots back.
Woods was undefeated the first eight times he held at least a share of the lead at a major’s halfway mark. He had let the last two slip through his fingers, though.
In the third round, Woods played just seven holes before a massive storm ended play for the day. He dropped three shots in a stunning turn of events. When play resumed the following day, he made another bogey for a 40 on the front side.
He shot 74 to start the final round tied for sixth, five shots back of McIlroy. A final-round 72 left him in 11th place. He lost to McIlroy, who closed with 67-66, by 13 shots in the final two rounds.
A handful of players had a chance to win this Open at Royal Lytham & St Annes, but collapse was the order of the day for many.
None more so than Adam Scott, who bogeyed the final four holes to lose by one to Ernie Els. Els birdied the last hole to win his second Claret Jug.
So where did Woods come in?
He started with consecutive 67s to sit in third place, four shots back of Brandt Snedeker’s lead.
Woods remained within striking distance – five shots back of Scott – after shooting 70 on Saturday. Woods actually was a shot ahead of Els, who overcame a six-shot deficit with a final-round 68.
Woods opened Sunday with five pars before his approach shot into the par-4 sixth hole found a pot bunker. His first escape attempt hit the lip and almost rebounded into him before returning to the sand.
He hit his next shot from off his rear end. A three-putt meant a triple-bogey 7.
That should have been the end of it. But after birdies on the 10th and 12th holes, he pulled alongside Els – albeit well behind Scott.
As Els surged forward to post the clubhouse lead, Woods bogeyed three in a row (Nos. 13-15) to ensure he would not benefit from Scott’s capitulation.
Woods settled for T3, four shots back.
You can never count Tiger Woods out at Pebble Beach.
Woods destroyed the field in 2000 to win the last U.S. Open at the iconic venue by a record 15 shots.
But this time around, he struggled early. He was seven shots back, and in a tie for 25th, after shooting 74-72 in the first two rounds.
Then he turned up in the third round.
An incredible 5-under 66 that included eight birdies rocketed Woods up to third place, trailing two players who had never won a major.
A 25-year-old Dustin Johnson had a three-shot lead over a 30-year-old Graeme McDowell.
But the famous Woods pressure never came on Sunday. While Johnson did capitulate early – Woods himself was also failing.
Woods carded three bogeys in the opening six holes, leaving him unable to take advantage of Johnson’s triple-bogey, double-bogey, bogey run from the second through fourth holes.
It was McDowell who emerged atop the leaderboard.
Halfway through the U.S. Open at Olympic Club, Woods’ four-year major drought looked like it was about to end.
Woods had just won the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide and his swing changes with Sean Foley had seemingly taken root.
In San Francisco, Woods shot 70-69 to share the lead with Jim Furyk and David Toms. Only once in nine previous occasions had Woods let a 36-hole lead in a major championship slip away.
Woods made six bogeys in a shocking 75 on Saturday, though.
“Just never quite had the right number,” Woods said, claiming he was constantly between clubs.
He backed it up with a 73 on Sunday to drop all the way to 21st.
There was so much anticipation for Woods’ return at Augusta National. He had yet to play in 2010 after spending several months away from the spotlight for personal reasons.
Everyone was talking about him. Everybody was watching his every move.
He couldn’t possibly play well enough to contend, right?
A first-round 68 had him tied for seventh, just two off the lead. He moved into a tie for third after a second-round 70 and was still just two off the lead.
Another 70 in the third round meant he would start Sunday four back of Lee Westwood and three behind Phil Mickelson. Woods was tied for third and playing in the second-to-last group.
But things would not start out on Sunday like Woods had hoped. He pull-hooked his opening drive and popped up his second tee shot of the day, playing the first two holes in 1 over par.
A wedge on the par-4 third flew well over the putting surface, but a par was salvaged. A chip shot on the par-3 fourth had too much juice and another bogey was carded.
Another wild drive on the par-4 fifth meant another bogey and had him six shots adrift and pushing things uphill. Even an eagle-birdie-birdie run on the final holes of the first nine only pulled him within three shots.
Another bogey on the 11th killed off his hopes. Despite another eagle at the par-5 15th, he finished five shots back of Mickelson, who won his third Masters. Still, Woods’ fourth-place finish exceeded even the wildest expectations.
"Not what I wanted," Woods said. "I wanted to win this tournament. As the week wore on, I kept hitting the ball worse. I entered this event -- and I only enter events to win -- and I didn't get it done. I didn't hit the ball good enough and I made too many mistakes around the greens, consequently I'm not there."
Tiger Woods reacts after his sand wedge hit the flagstick and bounced into the water on the 15th hole on Friday of the 2013 Masters. (Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
Woods was off to a strong start in a season that would see him win five PGA TOUR titles, return to World No. 1 and earn Player of the Year honors for the first time in four years.
He arrived at Augusta National with three wins in four stroke-play starts.
He played his first 27 holes at Augusta National in 5 under par but arrived at the par-5 15th seeking his first birdie of the second nine. He was tied for the lead but wanted it all to himself.
After having to lay up, he sat 85 yards out and took his 60-degree wedge. The ball bounced off the flagstick and caromed back into the water. It was a bad break compounded by a rules infraction.
Woods opted to drop where he played from and repeat the shot. The problem? He dropped two yards behind his previous spot in order to avoid hitting the flagstick again. The rule states that the drop must be taken “as nearly as possible” from the spot of the previous shot.
Social media started to erupt. Officials had to have another look. Woods was summoned to the course Saturday morning as rules officials reviewed the incident. He was spared disqualification but given a two-stroke penalty for playing from an improper spot.
The two-shot penalty dropped him five shots off the pace.
A third-round 70 left him seventh and four shots back. But bogeys on the fifth and seventh holes on Sunday morning meant it would be hard for him to threaten.
Birdies on 9, 10 and 13 had some dreaming as he set up an eagle try on 15. But he settled for birdie and then missed a birdie chance on 16 that would’ve put him within two shots.
Ultimately, he would finish tied for fourth, four back.
Had his ball missed that flagstick on Friday, it is very conceivable that he would have made birdie. He signed for an 8 instead.
But he also missed three putts inside 5 feet in Saturday’s round alone.
Another one that got away amidst a five-win season on the PGA TOUR.
Woods was masterfully picking apart Muirfield on some holes but was rusty on others.
Still, an opening 2-under 69 had him ninth. In the prevailing winds, his second-round 71 actually had him just a shot off Miguel Angel Jimenez’s lead.
Woods was still within two shots when the third round ended. He was three shots ahead of eventual champion Phil Mickelson.
Paired with Adam Scott in the final round, Woods had plenty of motivation.
Scott was using Steve Williams, his old caddie. And Scott had won the Masters a few months earlier when Woods was derailed by some tough luck and a penalty drop.
The leader Westwood had also shown a knack for nerves in majors. It was all there to be taken.
Woods bogeyed three of his first six holes Sunday, though. Bogeys on 10 and 11 made Woods little more than a spectator. He would end up shooting 74, eight shots worse than Mickelson’s sublime 66.
This is one Woods still thinks about, saying just a few weeks ago that it “still leaves a little kind of a craw in my mouth.”
“I felt like I had all the momentum,” he said. “I just felt like that was one of the ones that I could steal.”
This is why.
Nine birdies in a second-round 66 left him just three shots off the lead, trailing two youngsters named Rory McIlroy and Jason Day.
Saturday did not go as expected, though. Woods was supposed to put pressure on the young players who were both seeking their first major. Woods shot 74, instead, to fall seven shots off the pace.
“I’m going to have to put together a good front nine and see what happens,” he said.
When McIlroy bogeyed the par-4 fifth hole Sunday, Woods was tied for the lead. A 25-foot par save on the ninth hole gave Woods a first-nine 31.
Was this really happening? Woods smartly got through the tough 10th and 11th holes in pars and found the green on the par-3 12th.
And then it began to unravel. Woods gave his 30-foot birdie try an aggressive run, rolling it 2 ½ feet past the hole.
Then he missed the short comebacker.
Then he had just 187 yards left for his second shot at the par-5 13th. He pulled his 7-iron shot and made a momentum-killing par.
Two great shots into the par-5 15th left just 4 feet for eagle. Woods missed that putt, as well.
Woods briefly had the clubhouse lead, but Day and Adam Scott bested it by two shots. Then Charl Schwartzel birdied the final four holes to snatch the Green Jacket.
Y.E. Yang erupts in celebration after making a 10-foot putt on the 72nd hole of the 2009 PGA Championship. (David Cannon/Getty Images)
The result at Hazeltine in 2009 still has almost everyone in golf shaking their heads.
Y.E. Yang was steadfast where so many others had failed again and again. Asia’s first major champion not only beat Woods, he did it by overtaking him on a Sunday.
No one had done that in a major.
Woods started the final round two shots ahead of Yang and Padraig Harrington. Woods had been 14 for 14 when leading majors through 54 holes.
Woods and Yang played together in the final group. It was Woods who couldn’t get things going, though. Yang caught him on the fourth hole.
The critical moment arrived at the drivable par-4 14th. Yang was just short of the green while Woods was in the greenside bunker.
Woods splashed out to birdie range, only to see Yang choke down on his wedge and make a miraculous chip-in.
Woods managed to make his birdie but now the pressure was on him. He was behind. He responded by wedging to birdie range on the 15th but his putt stayed left. Another par on 16 left him one back with two holes remaining.
Yang left himself with a lengthy birdie putt on the par-3 17th, but Woods’ tee shot went over the green and his chip came out soft. Both players bogeyed the hole.
But just as he appeared to be faltering, Yang stepped up on the final hole with a stunning hybrid approach from 210 yards to 10 feet.
Woods took dead aim to match but found the rough. When he failed to chip in, Yang buried his putt for the unlikely victory.