Through two days, Tiger Woods looked like the old Tiger Woods. There was a buzz in the air, an excitement around The Olympic Club. Tiger was atop the leaderboard, and fans were lining up 10 deep hoping this major would be the one.
But as the real work began on Saturday, Tiger faded quickly. He hooked his tee shot on No. 1 into the rough and never recovered, firing a 5-over 75 that dropped him from the top of the leaderboard to off it completely.
Even with the struggles, though, Tiger was just five shots back, still somewhat within striking distance as he began his fourth and final round. He would have to post a number and hope the leaders came back to him, but there was a chance.
Just like Saturday, Woods was off from the word go. He played the first hole just about the same way as he did the day before, though this time around he hit into the right rough, laid up and made bogey.
His game just never came together. Tiger spent the first two days calmly walking around the course and grinding out two solid rounds, then completely came apart. The consistency off the tee was gone and the putting stroke was nowhere to be found.
All it took was three holes for Tiger to completely knock himself out of contention on Sunday. A bogey on No. 1 was followed by another on the second hole. The third hole brought a double-bogey and a sigh from the crowd gathered in the natural amphitheater.
The Tiger run on Sunday? It was nowhere to be found. He spent his day moving backwards, then trying to scratch together a respectable round.
By the time he finally made birdie, hitting a nice approach into the par-3 eighth and draining the putt as the massive crowd roared, all Tiger could do was shake his head, drop his putter against the bag and walk on to the next hole. He knew he'd lost a golden opportunity, and seemed to be wondering where that kind of hole, and the putt, were all day.
And of course, he followed that nice eighth up by hooking his drive into the rough on nine. Fairways were a rare commodity for Tiger on Sunday, just as they were the day before. And at The Olympic Club, with deep rough all over the course, it's all about finding fairways.
Tiger managed to elicit one more roar on 15, sticking his approach on the par-3 and draining a medium-range putt. But by then it was too late. The leaders were still hovering around par and Tiger had thrown it in reverse right as he stepped onto the course.
The streak of losses in majors is still going strong, and questions will continue to dog him. Tiger Woods is still human and still fighting to bring home the trophies that matter the most.