The dream died at the 11th hole.
Well, Tiger Woods’ hopes of winning the Wyndham Championship didn’t just die. They crumbled, blew up, disintegrated – whichever modifier you want to use, it fits.
If Sunday’s round had a Mad Libs page written about it, the blank before the description of the 11th hole would’ve called for “an adjective meaning bad.”
That’s what a triple bogey will do when the leader already sits three shots ahead.
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“I pulled my tee shot just a touch,” Woods said. “Hit a 5-iron from the rough, hit it high on the face left. A blade and muffed chip. Putt too hard and then I pulled (the sixth) putt and made the seventh, which was solid, right in the middle of the hole.”
That’s the sort of shot progressions one might have expected from a celebrity during Wednesday’s pro-am.
Woods approached the 11th hole at 13-under and in need of a solid back nine to catch Davis Love III, Jason Gore and a host of others. After a rather unspectacular beginning to his round, Woods birdied the ninth hole and seemed to make the turn with some momentum. But the steady, par-saving Woods disappeared for a few minutes, and that was enough to knock him out of contention. Tiger headed to the 12th tee box at 10-under.
Just for good measure, he bogeyed the 12th, too.
In addition to the damage he did to his scorecard, Woods also dealt with pain he later attributed to his hip. When asked if he felt any better during the final stretch, he just smiled and shook his head.
Despite the pain, Woods was able to avoid complete self-destruction.
With the pressure gone but the crowd that tailed him all week still intact, Woods finished his round with a bit of a kick. He followed the bogey on No. 12 with birdies at the 13th, 14th and 15th holes. Then, in front of the packed grandstands on the 18th green, Tiger knocked in his final putt of the tournament to finish the round at an even par 70. His 13-under 267 total was good for a 10th-place tie.
Trade that triple bogey for a par, and Tiger would have been in good shape to force a playoff with Love. But that’s not how golf works. Just ask Brooks Koepka, who made a late push on Sunday but likely wishes he could get back a double bogey from Friday.
On a rather unspectacular day for everyone not named Love, though, the round was Woods’ for the taking. A four-under par 66 would have gotten the job done.
“I gave myself a chance, and I had all the opportunity in the world today to do it,” Woods said. “I didn’t get it done. I had some makeable putts early I missed. I just wasn’t able to get any kind of roll early.
“I had my chances to get it going. I just never did.”
To be fair, Woods’ mere presence in Greensboro was an unlikely win for the city and for Woods. Ten days ago, this seemed impossible. As for an opening round 6-under par 64 and the following 5-under par 65 that shot him to the top of the leader board? Let’s just say Tiger’s 55-to-1 odds to win the tournament seemed a bit optimistic.
For the better part of three rounds, he made that wager look like a smart bet. On Sunday, though, the 11th hole provided a reality check.
And as he took those seven shots on No. 11, course officials in red polo shirts and black shorts manned the rope lines. For four days, the small army wore that same outfit as they battled the tens of thousands of fans trying to snap pictures and inch closer to Tiger Woods.
During the final round, that meant nearly two dozen Tiger copycats followed Woods, dressed as always in his traditional Sunday red, down the golf course.
The coordination seemed all too appropriate.
After he stood out all week, Tiger Woods finally faded into the crowd.
DiLalla: 919-829-0835; @AricDiLalla