Tiger Woods’ comeback from a career-threatening injury will continue at the Masters, but his bid for a sixth green jacket ended on Saturday as world number one Scottie Scheffler finished off his first major title by five bullets midway through the third round.
Scheffler turned up the heat on a cold, windy afternoon at Augusta National with birdsong at second and third and two more in six and eight with one bogey sandwiched between them hitting the floor at 11 below.
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Only Australian Cameron Smith and South African Charles Schwarzl, with the help of a ten-year-old eagle, could keep up with the 25-year-old American.
Ireland’s Shane Lowry, Canadian Cory Connors and Justin Thomas were the only other players within 10 shots from Schaeffler, who threatens to escape in the green jacket.
Woods was never the one to wave the white flag, but after returning for the third round 78 to drop 18 shots behind the leader, it would require a record-breaking sixth green jacket to be an even bigger miracle than the one that allowed him to return to competitive golf 14 months after a car crash that nearly took him his right leg.
Playing his first competitive event in 508 days, Woods started the ninth day behind Schaeffler and needed to introduce one of his famous third-round players, but the 15-time main champ quickly found himself in a deeper hole when first stunned in the bout. The second day in a row.
Wearing black pants and a white jacket with his hands buried deeply in his pockets to fight the cold, Woods headed for the five seconds and immediately responded by rolling three birdie feet.
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The cold did nothing to frighten the fans who were crammed 20 deep around the fifth green as Woods arrived, and those in the back couldn’t even catch a glimpse of the 46-year-old lined up on his kickstand.
This might actually be a good thing as Woods saw his hopes of staying on the hunt for the Green Jacket with the Double Ghost Four.
At this point, frustration was building and when Woods missed his shot on the tee from a triple, it was all he could do to prevent himself from hitting his club on the knee.
As always, Woods battled but another ghost on the ninth set the tone for a defensive nine that ended with a bogey, bogey, double bogey, and standing ovations for a brave effort from the beloved gallery.