Golf-Woods unable to conjure Masters magic in forgettable final round

By Thomson Reuters Apr 14, 2024 | 12:48 PM

By Frank Pingue

AUGUSTA, Georgia (Reuters) – Tiger Woods has produced countless magical moments at Augusta National but during the final round of the Masters on Sunday the five-times champion looked a shadow of his former self and left many wondering how many competitive rounds he has left.

Throngs of adoring spectators crowded the famed Augusta National layout and stood on tip-toes to catch a glimpse of a golfer who has authored some of the game’s greatest moments but an injury-ravaged Woods was unable to produce any magic.

Woods made one early birdie but otherwise struggled as he dropped to 16 over on the week after closing with a five-over-par 77 in the final round, a day after carding an 82 that was his worst major round as a professional.

But despite his significant drop in form, the 48-year-old Woods still draws the largest galleries wherever he tees it up and the decorated golfer’s very presence in a tournament brings an inevitable bump to ratings.

Prior to setting off in the final round, Woods’ son Charlie was spotted helping his dad in the tournament’s packed practice area while a giddy swarm of patrons crowded the opening tee and jockeyed for position ahead of his arrival.

By the time he arrived at the picturesque par-three 12th hole in the heart of Amen Corner, a sweat-soaked Woods tipped his black cap to the packed gallery who greeted him with applause and cheers of “Let’s go, Tiger!”

After tapping in for par at the 18th Woods again removed his cap but this time waved it at the thankful patrons around the green who showered him with more applause and wondered if it would be the last time he competes at Augusta National.

Coming into this year’s Masters Woods had only played 24 holes of competitive golf in 2024 due to nagging injuries but despite his physical limitations the 15-times major champion said this week he believed he had one more title run in him.

Woods made an encouraging start to the week and earned a record 24th consecutive Masters cut, but the toll of playing 23 holes in demanding winds on Friday after his first round was suspended on Thursday due to darkness ultimately showed.

While Woods defied the odds with an improbable win at the 2019 Masters two years after spinal fusion surgery, his physical limitations and few competitive starts suggest another major triumph is not on the cards.

With major championships on the schedule every month from here through July, Woods will now turn his attention to getting fit for the May 16-19 PGA Championship at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Kentucky.

(Reporting by Frank Pingue; Editing by Ken Ferris)