The world was hoping for a miracle in Tiger Woods’ Masters return but but the dream is essentially over for the golfing legend.
Tiger Woods struggled through pain and fatigue to his worst-ever Masters round on Saturday, firing a six-over par 78 in the third round of the 86th Masters.
Woods continued his incredible comeback 14 months after suffering severe leg injuries in a car crash, but finished with bogeys at 16 and 17 and a double bogey at the 18th.
Watch every round of The 2022 Masters at Augusta National LIVE on Kayo. Coverage includes 3 Bonus Cams, Daily Live Shows & more. New to Kayo? Try 14-Days Free Now >
But his hopes of a victory appear to have evaporated as he struggled to just avoid the cut.
The 15-time major champion finished 54 holes at Augusta National on seven-over 223 and walked off the course 18 strokes adrift of leader Scottie Scheffler.
The worst prior Masters round for Woods was a 77 he shot in the third round of his 1996 Masters debut as an amateur.
Woods, 14 months removed from a car crash that left him with injuries so severe he feared he might lose his right leg, saw his hopes of a stunning comeback for a sixth green jacket come undone on Augusta National’s notoriously difficult greens.
Woods was hospitalised for weeks and unable to walk for months after a February 2021 rollover car crash before battling his way back through rehabilitation to end a 17-month hiatus this week, fighting off pain with every step over hilly Augusta National.
Striding through a stamina test over the 7,510-yard layout, the 46-year-old legend played 18 holes for a third consecutive day for the first time since the accident.
The fact that the 46-year-old was even able to tee it up — and make a 22nd consecutive Masters cut — was astonishing.
But at nine off Scheffler’s lead to start the day, Woods knew he needed something sensational to give himself a chance come Sunday but it didn’t come to fruition.
“It was like putting practice, I hit about a thousand putts out there,” Woods said, whose prior mastery of the unforgiving, undulating greens of Augusta helped him to five Masters titles.
“I didn’t think I hit it all that bad. I just had absolutely zero feel for the greens.”
Woods’s seven-over par total of 223 saw him walk off the course 16 shots behind world number one Scheffler, who was one-under for the day and 9-under for the tournament through 15 holes.
Australian Cameron Smith was second at six-under at the end of his day and 2011 champion Charl Schwartzel was four-under through 15.
But despite the result, the world was still just pleased to see Tiger back on course.
A three-putt at the opening hole proved a harbinger, a birdie at the second — where his shot out of a green-side bunker barely missed finding the cup for eagle — proving only a short respite.
From the fairway at the fifth, Woods left himself 65 feet, and he could only watch in disbelief as his three-foot bogey effort circled the cup and stayed up.
Bogeys at the ninth and 11th followed before he drained a 14-foot birdie at the 12th and two-putted from 27 feet for birdie at the par-five 13th.
The thousands following Woods’s every move tried to will him on, cheering and shouting encouragement at every hole, but he closed his round with bogeys at 16 and 17 and another double-bogey at the last.
“I felt like I didn’t really hit it that bad, but I had four three-putts and a four-putt,” Woods said. “I did what I needed to do ball-striking wise, but I did absolutely the exact opposite on the greens.
“I just could not get a feel.”
While Woods acknowledged on Thursday that just making through his first competitive round in 17 months was a victory of sorts, he made it clear he would be looking for better things on Sunday, like getting himself back to even par.