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USATSI

For the second time in two days at the 2020 BMW Championship, Tiger Woods had a good round upended by the par-4 17th hole. For the first time in 10 years, Tiger shot all four rounds over par in a single tournament.

Woods, who came into Sunday’s final round 10 over and 11 strokes back of the lead, played his first eight holes in 2 under, just like he did in Saturday’s third round. After a bumpy run in the middle, he again drove his tee shot into the creek off to the right on No. 17 and turned something under par into a 1-over 71.

For the week, Woods shot rounds of 73-75-72-71, failing to crack par once. He finished 11 over for the event, though he’s not the only one who struggled at Olympia Fields.  At the time he finished, the average score in this field was around 7 over on the week.

It’s not as if Woods was abysmal at nasty Olympia Fields over the last four days, but he failed to gain strokes with his driver in any of the four rounds and finished nearly last in this field of 69 in putting. When you’re not opening or finishing holes well, it doesn’t much matter what happens in between. Interestingly, Tiger wasn’t too keen on that either.

“It’s me missing the ball in the wrong spots,” said Woods of his 11-over performance. “When I missed in the correct spots, I was able to advance in the correct spots, make putts; but if I missed them in bad spots, this golf course will certainly punish you.”

Woods’ season comes to a close as he’ll finish well back of the necessary top 30 in the FedEx Cup standings to advance to the Tour Championship at East Lake. (He also missed last year after winning it in 2018.) Tiger only played seven times over the 2019-20 season, but for the third straight season, he notched a win. Big Cat took the Zozo Championship last fall, which was one of just two top 10s for him (he also finished in the top 10 at the Farmers Insurance Open).

There’s not much time to rest either as the U.S. Open at Winged Foot starts in just 19 days. Tiger will be chasing his 16th major championship with a game that doesn’t seem quite fit enough to accomplish the task. 

“This golf course was basically a U.S. Open with the rough being as high as it is and fairways a little bit narrow,” said Woods. “Look at the scores, and I don’t think that we’ve seen scores like this in a non-major in a very long time. This was a great ramp-up for me for the U.S. Open. I wish I was playing next week, but I’ve got a couple weeks off.”

(Much) stranger things have happened than Tiger winning a major, of course, but Olympia Fields was a nice facsimile for what that U.S. Open will play like, and Woods — while he will only finish 10 or 12 strokes back of the winner of the BMW — is not close to legitimately contending in fields like this.

There are a million reasons for this, but sometimes in sports (and especially in golf) the simplest one is also the most true: Tiger Woods is getting older (he’ll be 45 in December), and you don’t contend against the Dustin Johnsons and Justin Thomases of the world as you get closer to 50.

Not even Tiger Woods.

That doesn’t mean he won’t be competitive or that he won’t win again, but it does mean that this year may not have been an anomaly. Though he won once, it was also his only chance to win, and giving himself fewer and fewer chances to win as he ages and tournaments get tougher to take might just be Tiger Woods’ new reality.