Tiger Woods briefly climbed atop the leaderboard on Sunday at The Open Championship at Carnoustie before finishing tied for sixth at 5-under, three strokes behind victor Francesco Molinari.
Tiger Woods said before the final round of The Open today that his main goal was to play well enough to let his kids see what Tiger Woods, 14-time major champion, is like on the golf course. The 4-shot final-round deficit was his closest to the lead in a major since the 2013 Open at Muirfield, where he was 2 back but tied for sixth.
Many had tipped Spieth, who led with Kevin Kisner and Xander Schauffele after 54 holes, to defend the Claret Jug he won in dramatic style at Royal Birkdale 12 months ago, but he failed to recover from a poor front nine.
The first to congratulate him was Woods.
Kisner, who had begun the day on nine-under with Spieth and Schauffele, suffered a terrible start with a double bogey at the second and a bogey at the third to slip back although he responded with a chip-in birdie at the fifth.
The victory adds to Molinari's best stretch of golf.
Molinari made par on his first 13 holes.
Woods is in a race against time - and that's a race no one ever seems to win.
Schauffele was playing in the final pairing at a major for the first time.
All around him on a windy summer day on the links of Carnoustie, the leaders were imploding as Tiger Woods moved into the lead at the turn.
"I've had things like that happen a lot in my career with people who just tried to time it", Woods told golfchannel.com.
That left him -3 for the week and six back at a stage but birdies at nine and 11 soon fired him back into the mix before a stunning eagle at the par five 14th shot him into the thick of the challenge.
Woods was there for all of it, and it's a tribute to Molinari that he did not flinch in the presence of one of the game's most popular - and followed - players. No. 11, with its "bad three-iron off the tee", its second shot that hit a green-side spectator in the cap, and its third shot that went up a slope toward the green but couldn't get there and chose to come back down, could provide particular wincing.
A Brit named Eddie Pepperell shot 67 with a hangover to end up tied with him.
We're not sure if this will change after winning a major championship. You're going to get some quirky bounces, and hopefully they go your way for the week. He lost his cool after that and went on to miss the cut. I could have easily made a four with one better swing and I would have been satisfied with even par today, considering the way I played.
As the mental pressure cranks up to ten on the back-nine on Sunday, standing over shots knowing you've recently won is clearly a big plus.
For McIlroy, the only regret was that he started his charge too late.
Americans had won the last five majors in-a-row before last week's Open Championship and there had been a strong presence on the leaderboard from over the Pond all week long.
Four-times major champion Rory McIlroy was another to struggle, dropping two shots in his opening seven holes to drop back to three-under.
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Woods, bidding for his first major in over a decade, had the sporting world daring to dream when he led with nine holes to play. Donning his traditional blood-red shirt Sunday, Woods needed only six holes to erase his five-shot deficit.
I was in the final group. 'I'm a little ticked off at myself for sure, ' Woods told Sky Sports . "I was a little hung over". Even Eddie Pepperell , teeing off in the morning with a hangover, potentially could have made a playoff after a 67.
One birdie on 14 got him back to five under; Rory McIlroy had eagled that hole to get to six under and grab a share of the lead. But even the appeal of Spieth was no match for seeing Woods, in his traditional red shirt, in the mix at a major.
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