Tiger Woods’ performance Sunday at the 2018 PGA Championship was vintage, thrilling Tiger and gave us one of the best major finishes in recent memory. He shot a 64 — tied for the lowest round of the day, and his lowest final round in a major ever.
We should be grateful, and never look a gift tiger in the mouth, but we can’t help but think: What could have been?
If only that putt had dropped, or that drive had stayed straight, would Tiger have lifted the Wanamaker Sunday?
It’s a moot point, but that won’t stop us. Here are the five mulligans Tiger could have taken Sunday:
This would have been an unreal start to the day for Tiger.
After his first tee shot of the day found a fairway bunker, Tiger made a great escape to get within eight feet of the hole. His look for birdie was on a perfect line, but it ran out of steam and lipped out off the left edge of the cup, leaving two inches for par.
Tiger would go on to birdie the next two holes — still a fantastic start. But being just an inch away from kicking off the day birdie-birdie-birdie was painful.
Tiger had just saved par on back-to-back Par-4s after more trouble out of the tee box when he lined up for his drive on No. 6
Through the first three rounds on the 223-yard Par-3, Tiger had made two pars and a birdie. But his tee shot Sunday found a greenside bunker on the far edge of the hole, leaving him with a tough look to find the green. The escape attempt was too long, setting up a deep putt from the fringe to save par. That one coasted wide, and Tiger had his first bogey of the day.
Tiger finished out the back nine with two birdies in a row, then hit the fairway for the first time all day on No. 10 to set up a par on the tough Par-4 hole. When he lined up for a looong birdie putt on No. 11, all the momentum on the course was with the man in red and black. And man did this putt want to fall.
If it had, the roar would have registered on a seismograph in Augusta. But it came up short at the closest distance a ball can be without dropping.
This putt would have put Tiger at 12-under, two shots back of Brooks Koepka. The miss just hurts more when you look at the scorecard and see two birdies on 12 and 13 that brought him one shot away from the lead. If Tiger had birdied five out of six holes to tie the lead on Sunday, there would have been no stopping him, right?
After another tee shot that was allergic to the fairway, Tiger needed two more strokes to reach the green on this Par-4.
That left him with a 20-footer to save par, and it looked good for 19 feet and 11 inches. The putt entered on the right lip of the cup, looped around, and was spat out, six inches away.
This would be Tiger’s only bogey on the back nine, and just his second of the day. It was also sandwiched between three birdies. What’s more, it came when Tiger sat at 13-under, just one shot back from Koepka. Dropping a shot was way too costly.
Tiger came up short on a good look for birdie at the Par-3 16th hole, which would have brought him back to within two shots with two holes to play. Coming off of the green, the camera caught Tiger grimacing in pain briefly. Whether he tweaked something there, or the frustration of a missed opportunity was on his mind, Tiger hit his most dangerous tee shot on 17.
The 597-yard Par-5 was playing as the second easiest hole on the course throughout the tournament, with 36 percent of all scores coming as birdies. This was a great opportunity to put a little more pressure on Koepka in the final stretch. But Tiger found himself in a lateral hazard, with no option but to chip back out onto the fairway. He ended up with an impressive par save here, but failing to pick up at least one shot on the last Par-5 of the day was painful on the penultimate hole.
Give us just two of these shots back, and Tiger breaks the PGA Championship low with a 62 to force a playoff with Koepka. And we’d probably still be talking about that one more shot we wish had gone his way.