Following his lowest round at a major in seven years, Tiger Woods showed up in his Sunday Red for the final round at The Open Championship at Carnoustie Golf Links in Angus, Scotland.
And for 10 holes, he played like the Tiger of old.
But some struggles over the next two holes cost Woods three strokes and the 42-year-old finished at even-par 71 to close the tourney at 5-over 279.
“I made a few mistakes there,” Woods said when asked what happened after he held the lead at 7-under. “I figured today, starting out the day, that nine (under) was probably going to be the number. There were three guys at 9. I saw that Jason (Day) played a great round today, I saw that Brooksie (Brooks Koepka) played a really solid round today … I figured that one of those three (leaders) were going to shoot even par or under par today and I was going to have to go get that number. Didn’t do it.”
Facing some stiff winds, Woods managed par on the first three holes before nailing an 18-foot birdie putt on the par-4 fourth hole.
After another clutch par, he took on No. 6 — a 582-yard par 5 playing into the wind — and nearly reached the green in two. His 94-foot eagle putt attempt wound up just six feet from the hole, leading to his second birdie of the morning and dropping him to -7 with 12 holes to play.
After Woods’ birdie on No. 6, co-leaders Jordan Spieth and Xander Schauffele both bogeyed No. 5 to move to 8-under … just one stroke ahead of Woods with one hole in hand.
Spieth and Schauffele then sputtered on No. 6, Spieth going for double-bogey while Schauffele settled for bogey. Meanwhile Woods parred Nos. 7 and 8 to move into a tie with Schauffele at 7-under as Spieth sat one stroke back.
A Schauffele blow-up on No. 7 — he shot double-bogey on the Par 4 — left Woods alone at the top of the leaderboard briefly.
Woods landed in a bunker on No. 9, but again salvaged a par to make the turn at 7-under. He and playing partner Francesco Molinari were the only players in the field to remain bogey-free at the round’s mid-point.
That streak came to an end on No. 11 with a double-bogey for Woods on the 385-yard Par 4 that dropped him back 5-under. He hit a spectator with his approach shot on that one.
He followed that with a bogey on No. 12, a long par 4, as Rory McIlroy joined a crowded leaderboard one shot ahead of him.
A par on No. 13 and a clutch birdie on 14 kept him in the hunt as he got back to even for the round. Molinari birdied No. 14 to move to 7-under as he continued his bogey-free day.
Woods strung together pars the rest of the way, nearly making a birdie on No. 18, to finish at 5-under and guarantee he wouldn’t win.
Molinari added one final birdie on No. 18 to go into the clubhouse with the lead at 8-under.
Woods’ 5-under 66 on Saturday was his best at a major since the second round of the 2011 Masters.
Woods shot even-par 71 during each of the first two rounds to make the cut, six shots off the lead.
Woods missed the cut at St. Andrews in 2015 and did not play The Open in each of the past two years. This weekend marks the 13th major the 42-year-old has played since 2013.
Woods, still looking for that elusive 15th victory in a major tournament, returned to the PGA Tour in 2018 after recovering from his fourth back surgery. He has finished in the top five three times and in the top 12 five times in 11 events.
Woods was making his third appearance at The Open at Carnoustie, where he tied for seventh place in 1999 and for 12th place in 2007. Of Woods’ 14 major titles, three have come at The Open: 2000, 2005 and 2006.
–Field Level Media