Tiger Woods comes up just short, finishes second at Valspar Championship

By Dan McDonald
PGA.com

Series: Golf Buzz

Published: Sunday, March 11, 2018 | 1:13 p.m.

Tiger Woods is again back in the spotlight of the sports world. This time, he's attempting to send a firm message that the injuries and the surgeries are behind him and he's back to showing the form that made him a 14-time major champion and 79-time PGA Tour winner.

Will Tiger Woods be able to capture win No. 80 and put a stamp on making this one of the greatest comebacks in sports?

We will find out at this afternoon's final round of the Valspar Championship as he tees off at 1:50 pm with Brandt Snedeker. Also vying for a win is 54-hole leader Casey Conners, who is going for his first PGA Tour win in and looking to do it in wire-to-wire fashion. Justin Rose, who has eight top 10s over his past 12 starts joins Conners in the final group.

MORE: Full Valspar Championship leaderboard | Photos from Innisbrook

Follow updates below as we follow Woods' round.

Running stats: 8/13 fairways; 13/18 GIR; 32 putts

Hole No. 18 - Par 4, 445 yards: An iron off the tee into the fairway leaves him with the longest approach shot into the green of anyone in the field today. The 185-yard shot finds the middle of the green and leaves him with a long 38-foot birdie putt chance to tie Casey in the clubhouse. The putt comes up two feet short and he taps in for a par, one shot behind tournament champion Paul Casey. A big smile from Tiger as he walks off the green to a roar of applause.

Ahead of Tiger was Patrick Reed who had a heartbreaking three-putt on 18 to make bogey and fall into second place for the tournament.

Hole No. 17 - Par 3, 196 yards: He took 5 iron on Thursday when he almost made an ace. He's hitting 6 iron today. A good solid shot into the heart of the green, but not what he needed to have an easy look at birdie. The 43-footer is a beauty and hits center cup for an incredible birdie that sent all of the golf world going insane. He's one down with one to play. 

Hole No. 16 - Par 4, 475 yards: The tee game continues to be stable this week. Another solid 3-wood trickles into the first cut of the rough, but in good position to see the pin. From 165-yards out, Tiger had a great line and great strike but couldn't get any spin on it so it ended up rolling to the back of the green. From 41 feet, Tiger's left-to-right putt is judged very well and left at tap-in range. But it's another par on the card and now he needs to finish birdie-birdie to get into that lead group.

Hole No. 15 - Par 3, 215 yards: The iron play into the green continues to struggle as his shot misses left and hops into the light rough. The short game, however, continues to be very strong and he almost holes out the chip. A kick-in par keeps him at 8-under. It'll take some serious magic for Tiger to force a playoff at this point. He needs to play the Snake Pit at 2-under par to match Casey and Reed. He's 1-under overall this week on the final three holes.

Hole No. 14 - Par 5, 590 yards: Third time is the charm with the driver for Tiger. He absolutely crushed it. Can't give the fairway mark as it trickled into the first cut though. From 250 yards out, he grabbed his trusty two iron and ripped one over the gallery to the front of the green. The eagle putt from barely on the fringe was left well short -- about 10 feet. That birdie putt had good pace, but stayed left. It doesn't go as a three-putt in the stats, but for all intents and purposes, it's a bad three-putt for Tiger to settle for par as another big opportunity is squandered.

Elsewhere on the course, Patrick Reed made a big par save on the 15th to stay at 10-under heading into the Snake Pit. Justin Rose made back-to-back bogeys on 12 and 13 to go back to 7-under. Snedeker also struggling since a strong start to the round. He's 6-over for the day, including a double bogey on 13.

Hole No. 13 - Par 3, 200 yards: This tee shot went to the moon and back and settled about 15 feet from the hole. As has been the case multiple times today, a great birdie opportunity but it lips out and Tiger settles for another par. Patrick Reed is now in the mix at 10-under with Paul Casey in the lead.

Hole No. 12 - Par 4, 380 yards: A solid iron off the tee leaves him in perfect position short of the water. The approach shot sails to the back of the green leaving a difficult 26 footer for birdie. The putt never really had a chance staying well left of the hole. A strong comebacker for par keeps the scorecard clean on the back nine.

Paul Casey is now the clubhouse leader at 10-under par.

Hole No. 11 - Par 5, 575 yards: The 3-wood that worked well on the last hole didn't work so well here. He finds the left fairway bunker and just splashes out to about 100 yards. The aggressive line to make up a shot didn't work out so well as he pulled it left into the rough. He almost makes the chip shot for an incredible birdie, but alas, another par on the card. Leaderboard holding still.

Hole No. 10 - Par 4, 445 yards: Tiger starts off the back nine with a laser 3-wood off the tee which finds the fairway. The approach shot is safe in the middle of the green about 20 feet from the hole. The downhill putt breaking to the right comes up a little less than a foot short. Another two-putt par for Woods and he remains two shots back of Paul Casey, who is beginning his work at the Snake Pit (16th, 17th, 18th holes).

Hole No. 9 - Par 4, 430 yards: The second driver we've seen today from Tiger doesn't go as well as the first. He pulled it left into the rough about 123 yards out. The ball sat up, but a small tree was in the wrong place to get a clean look at the pin. He goes left of the tree and hits a high cut shot to the back of the green, settling just onto the fringe. The chip-in magic of yesterday didn't come through as the ball rolled past the hole to about 3 feet. A good par save from where he was.

Front nine stats: 5/7 fairways; 7/9 GIR; 17 putts

Current leaderboard:
Paul Casey -10
Justin Rose -9
Patrick Reed -8
Sergio Garcia -8
Sam Burns -8
Tiger Woods -8

Hole No. 8 - Par 3, 235 yards: Big draw into the green complete with the patented club twirl settles to about 8 feet. The birdie putt got an early walk-in from Woods, but somehow managed to lip out. Big opportunity missed as he remains at 8-under par.

The dynamic leaderboard continues to rotate around as Paul Casey made a birdie putt from off the green -- his third-straight birdie -- to take the outright lead at 10-under. 

Hole No. 7 - Par 4, 420 yards: Ladies and gentlemen, we have a vintage Tiger stinger, instant club twirl sighting. 141 yards to a tough pin position just over the front greenside bunker and Woods delivers his best approach shot of the day and sticks it to about 6 feet right on the edge of the fringe. The straight up-hill birdie putt came up short after what sounded like it wasn't the cleanest contact and it's a tap-in par on the scorecard.

The leaderboard is in an insanely fun state right now:
Justin Rose -9
Paul Casey -9
Patrick Reed -9
Sergio Garica -8 (Started 7 back today and is 4-under over his past 6 holes)
Tiger Woods -8

Also of note on the leaderboard: Ryder Cup Captain Jim Furyk finished off a strong day shooting a 5-under 66 to finish at 6-under. Currently, he's sitting at T-9.

Hole No. 6 - Par 4, 465 yards: An iron comes back out of the bag on the difficult No. 6 here. It gets a club-twirl stamp of approval from Tiger to find the fairway. From 175 yards out, the pin is buried at the far, far left of the green behind a bunker. Tiger plays the safe route and finds the green on the right side. The 48-foot lag putt doesn't settle as hoped near the hole and leaves another tough comebacker from about 10 feet. A big exhale from the gallery as he once again saves par.

Rose remains at 9-under. Tied with Woods at 8-under are Patrick Reed, Paul Casey and now Sam Burns, who was paired with Woods on Sunday last week at The Honda Classic.

MORE: Sam Burns rises above the pressure of playing with Tiger Woods

Hole No. 5 - Par 5, 605 yards: For the first time today, we see the driver from Tiger off the tee and he finds the fairway. With 274 left to the hole, Tiger took a big rip at the blind approach shot and found the front right greenside bunker. A well-played long bunker shot leaves him about 12 feet from the hole with a look at birdie. He rolled the birdie putt well past on the right side leaving a long comebacker to test him. He passes the test from four feet to make par and remains at 8-under, one shot back of Justin Rose.

Also of note, Snedeker and Woods were approached by a rules official and warned about pace of play while walking off the tee box.

Hole No. 4 - Par 3, 195 yards: Tiger's tee shot clears the front bunker but doesn't quite get to the green. A bump-and-run chip shot runs past the hole and settles to about 6 feet with a tough look at par. He read the putt left-to-right but hit through the break and missed left. Taps in for bogey and Justin Rose is now the solo leader at 9-under. Tiger joins Patrick Reed at 8-under. Snedeker and Conners both dropped shots and sit with the group of five players at 7-under.

Hole No. 3 - Par 4, 428 yards: Another iron off the tee for Tiger. It heads a bit left but settles just off the fairway sitting up in the first cut. 206 yards to the hole and it's another found green. A stress-free, two-putt par from about 27 feet keeps Woods and Rose in the lead at 9-under with Snedeker, Reed and Conners one shot back.

Hole No. 2 - Par 4, 425 yards: It's iron off the tee and a second hit fairway. Unfortunately, it did find a small sand-filled divot. But from 158-yards out, Tiger plays it into the heart of the green with a lengthy look at birdie (52 feet). He left the lag putt well short, but snuck in his par putt from about 4 feet to pick up the par. A hole back, Conners made bogey on the first, Rose made birdie. Snedeker made bogey on No. 2. It's Tiger and Rose now tied for the lead at 9-under.

Hole No. 1 - Par 5, 560 yards: And we're off. Tiger takes 3-wood off the tee and finds the fairway -- a 319-yard drive. With 232 yards left to the green, a 5 iron puts him on the green with a look at eagle from 42 feet. It was a very well judged putt that scared the hole on the low side and left an easy tap-in birdie to take a share of the lead at 9-under par with Snedeker (also an impressive lag putt) and Corey Conners.

 

 

Excitement level right now: