Tiger never did roar in Augusta

Tiger Woods studies his putting line on No. 1 during the final round of the Masters.
Tiger Woods studies his putting line on No. 1 during the final round of the Masters.

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Tiger never roared.

Tiger Woods began the weekend lamenting that the green jackets who run the Masters had taken the "roars" out of the tournament by eliminating many of the eagles and "big birdies" when they lengthened Augusta National.

After Woods climbed into contention with a 4-under-par 68 on Saturday, his fans clogged the course tailing him through the pines and azaleas, hoping the world's No. 1 player would mount a Sunday charge to get the galleries buzzing and the leaders trembling.

It never happened.

Woods shot a quiet, even-par 72 to finish second by three strokes behind first-time champion Trevor Immelman, ending Woods' dreams of a Grand Slam and continuing his frustrations when trailing in the final round of a major.

Woods is deadly as a frontrunner: The 32-year-old is 13-0 when leading after 54 holes in a major. But his fifth runner-up finish left him 0-for-31 when trailing entering the final round, including 0-for-16 mark when the deficit is six shots or fewer.

Woods, who counts four green jackets among his 13 major titles, said in January he thought winning all four majors was "easily within reason." But after his putter failed him at the Masters, Woods' quest for a Slam was put on ice for a year -- not that he plans on making any more bold statements on the subject.

"I learned my lesson there with the press. I'm not going to say anything," Woods said. "It's just one of those things when you're out there playing, you couldn't care less. You're trying to win a golf tournament. You're trying to put yourself in position, which I did.

"I just didn't make the putts I needed to make this entire week. I had the speed right. I just didn't quite get the line right."

Woods tied for 29th in putting at Augusta. Immelman, by comparison, tied for fourth.

Woods' biggest putt of the week came Sunday at the par-4 No. 11, where it appeared Woods might rally. After Woods sank an uphill, 60-footer from near the fringe, the gallery at Amen Corner cheered loudly as Woods gave a couple of his trademark fist pumps.

But he never picked up any momentum, making pars on 12 and 13 before a bogey on 14 left him six strokes behind Immelman, where he started the day. Though Woods birdied 18 to receive a nice sendoff, he never put any pressure on Immelman, whose lead was large enough to withstand his double bogey at the par-3 16th.

Woods said his putting woes were caused by dragging the blade along the surface of the green -- a hiccup he never cured.

"I've tried to release it, tried to get it going, tried to hook my putts -- tried to do anything to get the thing rolling properly. I just didn't quite have it this week," he said. "For some reason, on the longer putts, I was great. The length of the stroke definitely helps, (but) on the shorter putts, I just kept dragging it."

But Woods, who had won nine of his previous 11 starts worldwide, does not figure to be dragging for long. He undoubtedly will be listed as the favorite at the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines in June.

But his dreams of a Slam died early.

"That's the way it is," Woods said. "Some weeks are like that. You have bad weeks and you have good weeks, and certainly this week was not one of my best."