Tiger Woods shoots 70, finishes one shot behind Paul Casey
March 11, 2018
By Staff, PGATOUR.COM
Tiger drains monster birdie putt at 17
Tiger Woods gave himself a chance on the final hole but came up one shot short of forcing a playoff with Paul Casey, who won the Valspar Championship for his second victory on the PGA TOUR.
Woods was seeking his first TOUR win in 1,680 days. Instead, it was Casey who won on TOUR for the first time in 3,262 days by shooting a 6-under 65, tying for the low round of the week. Prior to Sunday, Casey's lone TOUR win was the 2009 Houston Open, although he's posted 13 wins on the European Tour. He entered this week ranked 17th in the world.
Woods -- whose last win was the 2013 World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational -- shot a 1-under 70, tying Patrick Reed for second. It's his best result since returning to TOUR competition following a year's absence while rehabbing from his fourth back surgery.
Woods, a two-time FedExCup champion, moves to 43rd in the standings.
"I keep getting just a little bit better and a little bit sharper," Woods said after finishing at 9 under. "Today I wasn't quite as sharp as I would've liked to have had it, but I had a good shot at winning the golf tournament.
"A couple of putts here and there and it could've been a different story."
Woods was two strokes off the lead going into the 17th hole, but drained a birdie putt from 43 feet, 8 inches to close within one of Casey, who had finished his round more than an hour earlier. The putt send the huge crowd at Innisbrook into a frenzy, but on the final hole, Woods' birdie try from 38 feet, 11 inches failed to reach the cup.
Woods opened with a birdie on the par-5 first hole, bogeyed the fourth hole, then reeled off 12 straight pars, struggling to get any good looks at birdie. Woods said he felt like he was a half-club off on his iron shots, unable to dial in the right distance. That forced him to take a conservative approach into the greens, leaving him with too many lengthy birdie opportunities.
"I didn't feel that sharp with my iron game," Woods said. "... I kept getting the half club. Just one of those days I couldn't quite get the full club."
Woods will play on TOUR for the second consecutive week at the upcoming Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard, a tournament he's won eight times, including his last appearance there in 2013.
"It's going to be good for me to get back," Woods said. "I've had some great memories there."
Rd. 4: Tiger Woods hole-by-hole
1 (par 5, 560 yards): Good start -- 3-wood off tee finds fairway 319 yards away. Approach from 233 yards finishes on left side of green. Two-putt birdie from 42 feet, 8 inches. Score: -1 for round, -9 for tournament. Position: T1
2 (par 4, 435 yards): Iron off the tee lands in divot on fairway, but no problem. Approach from 158 yards finds the green. Birdie putt from 52 feet, 4 inches comes up short, but he makes 5-footer to save par. Position: T1.
3 (par 4, 455 yards): Another iron off the tee, with ball finishing in left intermediate rough. Approach from 203 yards lands on green. Two-putt par from 27 feet, 9 inches. Position: T1.
4 (par 3, 195 yards): 6-iron off the tee just clears bunker, finishes in fringe. Rolls birdie putt from 45 feet, 8 inches past hole. Misses par putt from 6 feet, 4 inches, taps in for bogey. Score: Even for round, -8 for tournament. Position: T2, one shot behind Rose.
5 (par 5, 605 yards): First driver of the round finds right side of fairway, 311 yards away. But his second shot from 281 yards leaves him frustrated, as it finishes in the greenside bunker. Looks like his right foot slipped during his swing. Bunker shot checks up short of pin. Rolls birdie putt from 12 feet, 7 inches past the pin, but he saves par from inside 5 feet. Position: T2, one shot behind Rose.
6 (par 4, 465 yards): Iron off the tee to 284 yards. His approach from 170 yards finds the green, but 50 feet from pin. Rolls his birdie putt well past the hole, but makes the par comebacker from 9-1/2 feet. Lot of pressure thus far on that putter to save par. Position: T2, one shot behind Rose.
7 (par 4, 420 yards): Long iron off the tee splits fairway and lands on top of hill. Approach from 141 yards on line, and bumps up next to fringe below the hole. Birdie putts from 13 feet, 8 inches comes up short, as he settles for par. Position: T3, one shot behind Casey, Rose.
8 (par 3, 235 yards): At the longest par 3 on the course, Woods hits a terrific tee shot inside 10 feet. His birdie attempt looks good -- in fact, Tiger start to walk it in -- but hits the left side of the cup and lips out. Taps in for par. Position: T4, two shots behind Casey.
9 (par 4, 430 yards): Driver drifts too far left and finds the rough. Approach from 123 yards finishes finishes past the pin just in the rough. Aggressive chip scares the hole, sets up short par putt. Position: T3, two shots behind Casey.
10 (par 4, 445 yards): 3-wood off tee travels 317 yards to left side of fairway. Wedge from 130 yards is slightly pulled but finds green. Birdie putt from 23 feet, 5 inches curls short right, settles for tap-in par. Position: T4, two shots behind Casey.
11 (par 5, 575 yards): Tiger's not happy with his 3-wood off tee as it finds the fairway bunker left. Forced to lay up from 273 yards. Wedge from 122 yards is pulled left and lands in rough. Excellent chip rolls just past pin. Short putt for par, but a disappointing result on easiest hole on the course. Position: T4, two shots behind Casey.
12 (par 4, 380 yards): Iron off the tee finds the fairway, but his approach from 157 yards leaves him 29-1/2 feet from the pin. NBC's Gary Koch calls it a "very indifferent short iron." Birdie putt never has a chance as it rolls left past the pin. Settles for his eighth consecutive par. Position: T4, two shots behind Casey.
13 (par 3, 200 yards): Excellent tee shot just inside 16 feet, but his birdie attempt doesn't break enough. Another par. Position: T4, two shots behind Casey, who's now finished at 10 under.
14 (par 5, 590 yards): Excellent drive of 327 yards sets him up to go for green. From 252 yards, his second shot hits the front of the green, then rolls back just onto the fringe. Using putter from off the green, his 81-foot eagle putt comes up about 10 feet short. A much-needed birdie putt loses steam, and it's another unsatisfying par on one of the course's easiest holes. Position: T3, two shots behind Casey, Reed.
15 (par 3, 215 yards): 7-iron ends up in the rough just off the green. Excellent chip is tracking toward the pin but comes up just short. Another par. That's 11 in a row heading into the Snake Pit. Position: T3, two shots behind Casey, Reed.
16 (par 4, 475 yards): 3-wood off tee settles on line between the intermediate and primary rough. Approach from 166 yards lands center of the green but rolls to the edge. Birdie attempt from 41 feet, 5 inches is well-judge from a speed standpoint but misses left. His 12th straight par. He'll need two birdies to tie Casey. Position: T3, two shots behind Casey, Reed.
17 (par 3, 215 yards): 6-iron off tee finds the green, but it's another lengthy birdie opportunity, this time from 43 feet, 8 inches. But there's the magic! He drains the putt, pulls the ball out of the cup and gives a knowing smile to the crowd. He's got a chance going into the final hole. Score: -1 for round, -9 for tournament. Position: T3, one shot behind Casey, Reed.
18 (par 4, 445 yards): 2-iron off tee finds the fairway but leaves him a long approach. In fact, the 185 yards to the pin is the longest distance in the field on any second shot at 18 on Sunday. He finds the green but has a tough birdie putt from 38 feet, 11 inches. He gives it a good run but the ball fades short right. A final par followed by huge cheers from the gallery. Final score of 1-under 70, 9 under for tournament. Position: T-2, one shot behind winner Paul Casey.