Wednesday, December 13, 2017

British Open: Deja vu for Tiger, Westwood, Scott

Tiger putters about for another major miss

Tiger Woods' latest chance to end the longest major drought of his career slipped away Sunday with another mystifying showing by a guy who used to produce magic fairly regularly.

He started the day two strokes behind leader Lee Westwood, but his final round fell apart quickly. An ugly three-putt at No. 1 was the start of his misery, and he staggered to the finish at 3-over 74, his highest final-round score at the British Open as a pro.

Woods ended up five shots behind winner Phil Mickelson, the ninth time he has finished in the top six in a major since his last major win, at the 2008 U.S. Open. But it didn't seem that close because of Woods' dismal putting. Woods needed 33 putts to get around the course. Only six of the 84 players had more.

"I had a hard time adjusting to the speeds," Woods said. "They were much slower (Sunday), much softer. It was frustrating. I played well."

Woods, once considered a lock to break Jack Nicklaus' record of 18 major wins, remained at 14. In his past six majors, he is 11 under in the first two rounds but 23 over in the second two.

Woods still has not won a major when trailing entering the last day.

More Tiger tidbits

. Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson have never been friendly, so it's not surprising Woods didn't sound that impressed with the winner's final-round 5-under 66. While others gushed over Mickelson's four birdies in the last six holes, Woods (three birdies, six bogeys) said: "It's certainly gettable out there. The greens are slower, and if you have the feel to hit it far enough up there into the greens, you can get it done. You can shoot between 3 and 5 under par. Evidently, (Mickelson) got a pretty good feel for it and made a few putts."

. Woods seems to have made up with Steve Williams (right), the longtime caddie he dumped a few years ago in a bitter split after Woods' personal life tailspinned. Williams now works for Adam Scott, Woods' playing partner Sunday. When the round was over, Woods and Williams shook hands on the green, and Woods even patted him on the shoulder. "(Williams) was saying it was a good fight out there today," said Woods of the caddie who carried his bag for 13 of his 14 major wins. Woods' current caddie, Joe LaCava, said the two had an ice-breaking conversation while walking down the eighth fairway.

Westwood philosophical after yet another 'almost'

Seeking his first major title to erase his "close but no cigar" tag, Lee Westwood began the final round with a two-stroke lead. But he shot 4-over 75 to finish four strokes back of Phil Mickelson and tied for third.

Westwood fell behind for the first time with a bogey on the par-3 13 and never recovered. "I'm not too disappointed," he said. "I don't really get disappointed with golf anymore."

This was his eighth top-three finish in 62 majors, the most by anyone in the modern era without a win. This also was his second 54-hole lead at a major. The other was at the 2010 Masters. He lost to Mickelson then, too.

Deja vu for Scott

For the second year in a row, Adam Scott held the British Open lead in the final round on the back nine. For the second year in a row, he left without his name on the claret jug.

Playing in the next-to-last group with Tiger Woods, Scott birdied the par-4 11th to take the lead with seven holes to go.

Last year at Royal Lytham & St. Annes, Scott had a four-shot lead with four holes to play. He finished with four bogeys and lost to Ernie Els by one.

His troubles this year began with a bad shot into the grassy dunes right of the 13th green that Scott almost got away with when he hit a great pitch to 7 feet. But the putt lipped out, beginning a string of three straight bogeys that took him out of contention.

"I let a great chance slip, I felt, during the middle of the round, and that's disappointing," said Scott, who got his first major win at this year's Masters. "I'm happy with my week, other than I didn't win."

Tears of joy

Jim "Bones" Mackay is the only caddie Phil Mickelson has employed in a 21-year pro career. The two are good friends as well as employer-employee. That's why Mackay was in tears after Mickelson's round and stayed that way for a while.

"When you work with someone for so many years, it's pretty cool when you see him play the best round of golf he's ever played in the last round of the British Open," Mackay said.

"He's stronger than he's ever been. He's fitter than he's ever been. He's hungrier than he's ever been."

Compiled from Times wires, ESPN,

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