The galleries in Augusta, Ga., erupted with Tiger roars early and often, but were ultimately quelled as a seven-shot deficit proved to be insurmountable for Tiger Woods, as he tied for fourth. South African Charl Schwartzel won the green jacket, shooting 14 under for the tournament, and six under for the day.
The top of the leader board proved to be chaotic and subject to change on nearly every shot. No fewer than nine golfers were still in contention for the title when Woods’ group finished, with six pairings behind him.
The wild finish that ended Woods’ pursuit for a fifth green jacket happened on the 25th anniversary of Jack Nicklaus’ record six Masters titles, underscoring the question of when, or if, the record will ever be matched.
Nicklaus, an Upper Arlington native and Ohio State graduate, recorded his six titles over a 24-year span while in his prime. Woods won his four titles over a nine-year span but has not won in his last six attempts, though he has been in contention every time, placing no lower than sixth.
Ever since the Woods affair scandal, Woods has not won a tournament, let alone a major. He has shown some signs of life, though, tying for fourth at both the U.S. Open and Masters in 2010.
At this point, it is far too early in Woods’ career to tell if he is at his prime or demise. There is no question Woods is young at age 35 and he likely has plenty of good golf left in him, with some tournament wins likely.
The question will be whether Woods can shake off his postscandal rust to actually win on the biggest stage at the Masters, and capture three more titles to surpass Nicklaus.
Woods has proven that he still has the talent to contend at the highest level, but he just needs that big win to get him over the hump.
For the time being, however, Nicklaus’ legacy at the Masters looks to be secure.