Tiger Woods’ uphill birdie try from 39 feet on the 18th green never made it to the hole, leaving him to tap in for par, sign for a round of 1-under 70, and finish one behind winner Paul Casey at the Valspar Championship.
Woods gave himself a chance to force a playoff with a birdie at 18 when he drained a 44-footer for 2 at the par-3 17th, but an 80th victory wasn’t to be on Sunday.
Woods’ tie for second with Patrick Reed at 9 under par marked his first runner-up and best finish on the PGA Tour since the 2013 Northern Trust, the first leg of that year’s FedExCup Playoffs.
“I think I’m a little bit better than I was a couple weeks ago at the Honda, and I keep getting just a little bit better and a little bit sharper,” Woods told Golf Channel’s Steve Sands in a post-round interview. “Today wasn’t as a sharp as I would I would have liked to have had it, but I had a good shot at winning this golf tournament, and a couple putts here and there, it could have been a different story.”
One back to start the final round, it took Tiger just one hole to tie for the lead.
Woods split the fairway at the par-5 first, found the putting surface with an iron from 236, and two-putted for an opening birdie after scaring the hole with an eagle attempt from 43 feet.
Fundamentally [email protected] opens his day with a birdie.#QuickHits pic.twitter.com/PSvqsN9ahA
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) March 11, 2018
He would give that early birdie back with a bogey at the par-3 fourth, when he failed to get up and down from the apron.
Par putts from 5 feet and 10 feet at Nos. 5 and 6 kept Woods at level par, and a tee shot to inside 10 feet at the par-3 eighth looked as though it had set Tiger up for a return to red numbers.
Woods struck his birdie putt and started walking to the hole, although that proved unfortunately premature.
"That's your home! Are you too good for your home?!" pic.twitter.com/KU89iGXbyI
— Golf Channel (@GolfChannel) March 11, 2018
Another par at No. 9 saw him make the turn in even-par 36.
Stuck in neutral on the back nine, Woods very nearly broke a string of pars stretching all the way back to the fifth hole with a delicate pitch from off the green at the par-3 15th.
Opens the blade, flops it out…and it comes up 6 inches short, right in the jar. Just been that kind of day.
— GC Tiger Tracker (@GCTigerTracker) March 11, 2018
Two off the lead held by Casey with two to play, Woods found the middle of the green at the par-3 17th. Just when he appeared to be out of it, he went ahead and conjured up a little Tiger magic from 43 feet, 8 inches.
Needing a birdie to force extra holes, Woods went with iron off the 18th tee, leaving him with an uphill approach from 185 yards. His second shot failed to reach the back shelf, and his final birdie bid came up a good 2 feet short.