On the bright side, Tiger Woods progressed beyond the 13 hole on championship on Sunday. For the second week in succession Woods limped out of the picture if not the contest with a recurrence of back trouble, his closing round of 78 only the ninth of his career without a birdie.
After shooting the low score of the week on Saturday, 66, to rush into contention at the WGC-Cadillac Championship, Woods drew blood early but not the way he had hoped. A wild drive at the first scalped a spectator down the right. The wound was not fatal, at least not to the victim.
Woods was in the water at the third, resulting in the first of three bogeys in four holes. Thereafter it was an afternoon of grimaces and attrition. Having started the day just three behind leader Patrick Reed, he finished nine adrift on five over par.
“It basically started on 6,” Woods said. “The second shot out of the bunker, my foot was out of the bunker. That's what set it off and then it was done after that.”
It was left to Reed to do justice to a red shirt. None was able to make a run at the overnight leader, who birdied three of the opening four holes to stretch his lead to four. The advantaged had shrunk to two by the time he reached the 18 tee, insurance enough to win it with a bogey, a shot clear of Welshman Jamie Donaldson and Bubba Watson.
Rory McIlroy was off to the fast start he wanted with a birdie at the first and might have been four under at the turn. He shaved the hole three times without reward and a bogey at the ninth effectively signalled the end of his weekend. Another at the last for a 74 to finish five over par summed up his day.
“It was more frustrating than anything else. I hit 14 greens. I felt like I struck the ball well for the most part but on the greens I didn’t really get anything going with the putter. It’s a frustrating course because you feel you should be doing so much better. It just doesn’t allow you to. I started really well, had chances on every hole then all of a sudden I bogey nine and turn in even par. I could have been three or four under. Just one of those days.”
Into the void left by McIlroy swept Donaldson, who, had he not bogeyed the last would have engineered a play-off. As it is second place secured the bonus of a temporary PGA Tour card.
Scotland’s Stephen Gallacher, already a winner this season in Dubai, also had a big day. Gallacher was out in 32 en route to a 69 to claim a top-ten finish on one over par and importantly all-but seal his place at the Masters.
“I had to cement my Masters (place). I'm 39 (in world). I was trying to stay Top‑50 for the end of the month so hopefully that will do it now. That’s all I was thinking really. I played good all week actually. Today I played great. So yes, I'm happy, very happy.”