(The Root) — The end came right from the start for Tiger Woods on Sunday as his promising prospects at the U.S. Open began disintegrating on the final round's initial hole. The carnage went like this: bogey, bogey, double bogey, par, bogey, bogey. Just like that, Woods played himself out of contention after sharing the lead midway through the tournament.
"The first six [holes], I just didn't play well at all," he said after finishing tied for 21st. "I just could never get anything going positively, and I missed the ball in the wrong side a couple times, and that's all it takes."
Woods' final two rounds (75 and 73) were in stark contrast with his opening rounds of 69 and 70, when he really looked like his old self again. He wasn't the only big-name golfer who struggled to tame San Francisco's Olympic Club course, but he was the only one shooting for a 15th major championship. He'll have to wait until the British Open next month for another opportunity, but he wasn't overly discouraged by his performance.
"There's a lot of positives this week," he said. "Hit the ball really well. Unfortunately I just didn't have the speed of the greens until [Sunday]. But overall, the way I struck the golf ball, the way I controlled it all week, is something that's very positive going forward. And if I just would have hung in there a little bit better [Saturday] and missed it on the correct side a couple times, then I would have been in a better position going into [Sunday]."
Unfortunately, Woods always says he's close, barely missing and almost there. Supreme confidence is the only part of his game that hasn't disappeared. But every time we see signs that he's on the right track, they're followed by more results that suggest otherwise.
His strong start in the U.S. Open fired up fans and members of the media, who fondly remember the days when a 36-hole lead in a major was tantamount to victory for Woods. Of course, such expectations are ridiculously high, but they persist nonetheless. And Woods' allure has only increased since frailties replaced his machinelike veneer.
"This new Tiger Woods, human being, is so much more interesting than the old one, isn't he?" Sports Illustrated's Michael Bamberger wrote entering the final round. "Don't you just love this new Tiger Woods, who is so unpredictable, so different from day to day? He's fascinating."
Indeed. Which makes the wait for his 15th major victory — if it ever arrives — even more exasperating.
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