AUGUSTA, Ga. — As it turned out, the two shots added to Tiger Woods’s second-round score wouldn’t have mattered, since he finished four strokes behind the Adam Scott-Angel Cabrera playoff.
A dramatic week for Woods ended with a 2-under-par 70 in the final round of the 77th Masters, which concluded with the four-time champion at 5 under par, tied with Marc Leishman for fourth. It’s the sixth time Woods has been in the top four at Augusta since he last won the Masters in 2005. But it also means he’ll head to the US Open near Philadelphia without a major championship for almost exactly five years. He’s still stuck on 14, the same number after winning the 2008 US Open.
Woods felt like he needed a final-round 65 — shades of Jack Nicklaus in 1986 — to win. That would have put him at 10 under; Scott and Cabrera tied at 9 under, so Woods was spot-on. He rallied with a 33 on the back nine, but he couldn’t get close enough to scare the leaders.
Of course, Woods’s two-shot penalty handed down Saturday morning — in response to an improper drop he took Friday — will be one of the lasting story lines from the week. Did he wonder what might have been, had his approach shot to the 15th hole not hit the flagstick, or if he hadn’t been penalized?
“No, not when I’m playing. No. Absolutely not,” Woods said. “We could do that what-if in every tournament we lose.”
Tom Weiskopf had reason to squirm, not once but twice. Bubba Watson and Kevin Na made spirited runs at him, but Weiskopf still holds the tournament record for the highest score ever recorded on the par-3 12th hole. He made a 13 in 1980.
Watson and Na each took a 10 there in the final round, knocking six balls into Rae’s Creek between them. Neither was in contention, and both wanted to take a chance with the pin in its customary right-side location, which brings the water more into play.
“I went for the flag, obviously you’re not supposed to, but I’m back of the field, trying to make a birdie, maybe a 1,” said Na, who has been dealing with a back injury and shot 81 to finish at 13 over. “Sadly, I hit three bad swings in a row. Trying to pull off a shot that is maybe a little low percentage, but I’ve got nothing to lose.”
Watson, the defending champion, was even par for the tournament — better than Na, but not near the lead — when he arrived at the 12th tee. He also rinsed his tee ball, chose to use the drop zone, and put another ball in the water. His fifth shot went over the green and into the greenside bunker, but Watson’s sixth shot ran through the green, down the slope . . . and into the water again. Once again from the bunker, Watson played sideways, then chipped on and holed about a 15-footer for his 10. He birdied the 18th to shoot 77.
“If you’re not going to win, you’ve got to get in the record books somehow,” Watson said. “When you look back at this week I had nine three-putts, three balls in the water on 11, [and] a 10. When you add all that up, a tie for 50th is a pretty good week.”
At least Keegan Bradley left Augusta National on a high note, despite finishing tied for 54th. For the second straight year — Bradley tied for 27th as a rookie — he closed with a 69, and this time birdied four of his final five holes to do it.
Bradley struggled Saturday, shooting an 82, his highest score in 216 career rounds on the PGA Tour. He followed it up with his lowest score at the Masters, making birdies on the 14th, 15th, 16th, and 18th holes.
Bradley wasn’t the only one to author a positive final-round reversal. Michael Thompson (79 Saturday) closed with a 67, while Ryan Moore (81 in the third round) had a 68. David Toms (76) also had a 67, which matched Thompson for the low round of the day. It pushed Toms into a tie for 13th.
See you next year
Two first-time players had good enough final rounds to earn automatic return invites that go to anyone finishing among the top 12 and ties. Thorbjorn Olesen from Denmark flirted with the day’s low score before a bogey on No. 18 left him with a 68, still enough to move him from a tie for 18th to a tie for sixth. Olesen opened with 78, but his 68-68 weekend was the best in the field. Another 68 pushed John Huh into 11th place at 2 under . . . Sergio Garcia, a first-round leader, closed with 70 and tied for eighth, his best Masters showing since a tie for fourth nine years ago . . . Phil Mickelson completed a surprisingly poor Masters with a 73, which left him tied for 54th at 9 over. “I just had an off year. I don’t know what to tell you,” said Mickelson, whose finish was his second-worst in 21 Masters, surpassed only by a missed cut in 1997. “To perform like this is disappointing.” . . . Rory McIlroy closed with a 69 and finished at 2 over . . . Bernhard Langer birdied his first three holes to reach 5 under and climb within two of the lead. The 55-year-old played his final 13 holes in 7 over, shot 76, and tied for 25th . . . Bo Van Pelt (74) eagled No. 15, the fifth eagle he’s made on Augusta National’s back nine in the last three years.