Tiger finds early birdies but still struggling at Masters

Augusta (United States) (AFP) –


Tiger Woods made his best start of the week in Sunday's final round of the Masters, but it wasn't enough to move the 14-time major champion below par overall.

Woods, playing his first major event since 2015 due to nagging back pain and spinal fusion surgery, birdied the par-5 second hole with a 3-foot putt and the par-3 fourth from nine feet.

But the four-time Masters champion also missed 5-footers for birdie on the first and seventh holes -- taking a 3-putt bogey at the latter -- and made bogey at the third to stand on level par for seven holes in his last round.

That was 18 strokes behind 54-hole leader Patrick Reed, who was set to start later alongside Rory McIlroy in the final pairing.

Woods stood 4-over for the tournament after rounds of 73, 75 and par-72 to start his major comeback at Augusta National after saying his goal for the day was to shoot well enough to finish at level par for 72 holes.

While there was consolation the former world number one would likely crack the top-100 in Monday's world rankings after falling beyond 1,000 during his long layoff, the electrifying show many expected after two top-5 finishes in March tuneup events never materialized.

"Tigermania" levels of attention made Woods the star attraction much of the week with Masters crowds, even though his game produced only flashes of the shotmaking skills that once made him golf's dominant player.

Woods has not won a major title since the 2008 US Open and has not won the Masters since 2005. He won the most recent of his 79 US PGA Tour titles at the 2013 WGC Bridgestone invitational.