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Archive for Monday, April 9, 2007

Tiger’s legend takes a blow

April 9, 2007

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— A 4-iron wasn't the only thing that Tiger Woods broke Sunday at the Masters.

Tiger Woods reacts to a missed birdie put on the 14th green. Woods eagled the 13th hole and looked poised for another back-nine charge, but he failed to catch leader Zach Johnson, who watched from the locker room.

Tiger Woods reacts to a missed birdie put on the 14th green. Woods eagled the 13th hole and looked poised for another back-nine charge, but he failed to catch leader Zach Johnson, who watched from the locker room.

Fractured, too, was the myth that the man couldn't be beat once he grabbed the outright lead in the final round of a major.

Twice before, Woods had been caught and passed. But both times - in the 2000 PGA Championship at Valhalla and here a year later - Woods came out on top. In this wackiest of Masters, he held the lead for all of a few minutes after making a birdie at the second hole, then spent the rest of the day trying in vain to catch a rotating cast of characters going by him in Augusta National's passing lane.

"I had a chance, but looking back over the week, I basically blew this tournament on two rounds where I had bogey-bogey finishes," Woods said, referring to Nos. 17 and 18.

"That's 4-over on two holes," he added. "You can't afford to do that and win major championships."

This once, Woods didn't deliver.

"I really wasn't looking at the leaderboard," winner Zach Johnson said afterward. "I left that up to Damon (Green), my caddie. I never really knew where I stood.

"I said, 'Damon, should I look? Should I look?' I didn't know until the 17th, and then I realized I just had to play solid and go from there."

Turns out Johnson could have peeked much earlier. After the 13th, Woods uncharacteristically ran out of magic.

Woods exited the clubhouse soon after, surrounded by his agent and four security guards, sipping a diet soda and carrying a new driver under his arm. He headed for the driving range, and so strong is the legend that has grown up around Woods that a few people following him actually thought he was going to practice.

Instead, he used a back entrance to the players' parking lot, started up the car and drove down Magnolia Lane. There would be no more golf this day. This Masters was over, and with it went a piece of Tiger's aura of invincibility.

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