Tiger Woods has shaved 11 strokes off his career-worst 85 to conclude his Memorial tournament with a three-over par 74.
The 14-time major champion was the first man off the tee on Sunday, in last place in the weekend field of 71 at a tournament he has won five times.
The odd number of players meant he didn’t even have a playing partner, but Woods said he approached the round as he had every other in his career.
“To try and shoot the best score I can,” he said of his goal. “Just because I’m in last place, that doesn’t change anything.”
Woods, the former world No.1 who has slumped to 172nd in the world, finished with a 72-hole total of 14-over 302.
That was another career worst, surpassing the 72-hole high of 298 he shot at the 2010 Bridgestone Invitational.
Erratic off the tee all week, Woods was making progress on the front nine, following an early bogey with three birdies.
A birdie at the par-five 11th, where sank a four-foot putt, put him three-under for the day.
But Woods, who insists he’s committed to working through the swing changes he’s implementing with instructor Chris Como, couldn’t maintain the momentum.
A bogey at 13 was followed by a double-bogey seven at the par-five 15th.
A birdie at the par-three 16th was followed by a bogey at 17 and a double bogey six at 18 – where he had finished with a quadruple bogey eight on Saturday.
“This is a lonely sport,” said Woods, who has just two weeks to regroup before the US Open at Chambers Bay.
“You just have to deal with it.”
Despite the rough finish to his round, Woods said his Sunday effort gave him confidence that he is on the right track heading into his next scheduled start at the second major of the year.
“Today was more what we’ve been doing on the range,” said Woods, who hasn’t added to his tally of major titles since the 2008 US Open at Torrey Pines.
“And to be able to step up and tag those drives like I did today and even shape some of the irons – which I was struggling with early in the week – I got those shapes back again but doing it with a different pattern.”
Woods says making that new pattern automatic takes time.
But the 39-year-old, who has revamped his swing several times in his career, believes the effort is worth it – even if it leads to rounds such as Saturday’s 85, or his 82 at the Phoenix Open in January, his prior career-worst.
After Phoenix, and another disappointing outing at Torrey Pines, Woods took a nine week break from competition, returning to nab a top-20 finish at the Masters.
“I had to go through those painful moments … to be able to make the leap I did at Augusta,” he said.