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The Masters: Tiger’s hopes slammed

By Bret Strelow
Salisbury Post
AUGUSTA, Ga. ó Tiger Woods sank a 10-foot birdie putt on the final hole, but he didn’t react with an emphatic fist pump.
He offered a dismissive wave of his right hand.
Woods, who said winning the Grand Slam was “easily within reach” well before the Masters began, placed second in the first major championship of the year.
He completed 72 holes at Augusta National with a 5-under-par total of 283 and finished three strokes behind Trevor Immelman, who shot a final-round 75. Woods closed with an ever-par 72.
Instead of taking a successful step in his pursuit of the Grand Slam, he essentially broke his bat while popping up a first-pitch fastball.
“I learned my lesson with the press,” Woods said. “I’m not going to say anything.
“It’s just one of those things when you’re out there playing, you couldn’t care less. You’re trying to win the golf tournament. You’re trying to put yourself in position, which I did.”
Woods has won four consecutive majors during his career, but never in the same calendar year. His victory at the 2001 Masters followed three first-place showings from the preceding season.
Woods collected his fourth green jacket in 2005, and he’s settled for a trio of top-three finishes since then.
He lost to Phil Mickelson by three shots while tying for third in 2006, then tied for second a year ago in Zach Johnson’s two-stroke victory.
Woods trailed Immelman by six strokes entering Sunday and walked off the final green facing a five-shot deficit. Immelman’s double bogey at No. 16 pulled Woods to within three shots of the lead and created a stir among the patrons who had gathered around the 18th hole.
“That guy boggles my mind,” Immelman said. “I’m an avid sports watcher, an avid sports fan, and I study top sportsmen. This guy is frightening in what he gets done and how he gets it done and the ease in which he gets it done.”
Woods hit the ball well all week, but his putter let him down.
He made a Saturday push with a bogey-free round of 68 that could have been significantly better, and he recorded three more birdies Sunday.
Of the 45 players who completed four rounds, Woods finished tied for 29th with a total of 120 putts.
“I kept dragging the blade,” Woods said. “I wasn’t releasing it, wasn’t getting overspin like I normally do. Out here, if you’re not starting the ball perfectly on line, you’re not going to make any putts.”

Contact Bret Strelow at 704-797-4258 or bstrelow@salisburypost.com.

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