SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Tiger Woods tried his best to put a positive spin on things, even when there was nothing positive about his weekend.
Another opportunity lost. Another chance to win a major championship gone.
For two rounds, Woods seemed to be in command in the U.S. Open. Then came a weekend of frustration that ran his winless streak in major championships to four years and raised even more questions about his ability to win the titles he used to take for granted.
He came into the final round Sunday still contending he had a chance at Olympic Club. Then he got off to a bogey-bogey-double bogey start that took away any chance of him mounting a charge up the leaderboard.
“There’s a lot of positives this week. Hit the ball really well,” Woods said. “Unfortunately, I just didn’t have the speed of the greens until today.”
Woods made some birdies coming in, but by then it was too late. He finished with a 3-over 73 that left him six shots back of winner Webb Simpson in a tournament Woods seemed poised to win after two rounds.
Tied for the lead going into the weekend, his game fell apart with a series of poor drives, chunked shots and putts that didn’t come close to the hole. He was 8-over-par for the weekend, even while insisting that he did everything mostly right.
“I hit the ball very well the first two days and, as I said yesterday, I was just a fraction off just a couple yards here and there and that’s all it takes,” Woods said. “I had so many balls that landed in the fairway that went into the rough.”
Keeping the ball in the fairway was a challenge for all players at Olympic, where sidehill spins often sent balls into the deep grass. Woods hit 33 of 56 fairways on the week, but also had 123 putts as he struggled on the greens.
He was 1 under and confident of his chances as he teed off in the third round tied for the lead with Jim Furyk and David Toms, but a fat 75 on Saturday was his undoing.
Woods said his much-discussed swing changes worked well and that he was happy for the most part with how he hit it all week. His biggest problem on the weekend, he said, were distances that left him between clubs and shots that went into the rough despite being only a few shots off.
“I’m excited about the consistency of it,” Woods said. “How well I hit the ball all week, really. I didn’t really miss it that badly this week. The misses were just a fraction off, which is great. That’s what we want to have happen. And this golf course is just so demanding that a fraction off you pay a price.”
Though Woods showed signs of being able to contend and win a major championship again, he has not won one since taking the U.S. Open in a playoff with Rocco Mediate at Torrey Pines in 2008. Since then, he has gone through surgeries, scandal and a rebuilding of his swing that he keeps insisting is coming along fine.
Woods remains stuck at the age of 36 with 14 major titles, behind the record of 18 held by Jack Nicklaus that he covets so much.
He finished on somewhat of positive note, going 3 under in his last 12 holes after his early blowup. But instead of contending on Sunday in a major, he played far ahead of the leaders and was never able to mount any kind of charge once things started going bad.
Asked if he felt like this was a good opportunity that got away, Woods said that could be said about a lot of tournaments. When it was pointed out that this was a U.S. Open and the majors only come around four times a year, he stuck to his script.
“Finished close in major championships before, so I had a chance this week and I’ll get after it in another week in (Washington) D.C.,” he said.