Tiger Woods has been stuck on 14 major championship wins since 2008 and while he believes a few decent shots here or there could have rung up at least another title or two, that’s the way the Nike One Tour D bounces.
One particular major defeat -- the 2006 Masters -- however, rates as the most painful for the world’s current No. 2, who hopes to notch PGA Tour W No. 77 at this week's Arnold Palmer Invitational and thereby reclaim the top world ranking spot.
Seeking to defend his 2005 win at Augusta, Woods went into Sunday’s final round two shots back of 54-hole leader Phil Mickelson. A finishing 2-under 70 was good enough only for a share of third place, three shots behind Mickelson, who won his second green jacket by two strokes over Tim Clark.
“That one hurt the most of any tournament that I have failed to win,” Woods told reporters Wednesday ahead of this week’s contest at Bay Hill. “I've lost tournaments before, and I've been through some tough defeats over the years, but nothing like that because I knew my dad would never live to see another major championship.”
Woods conceded he wanted so badly to chalk up one more major trophy before his father, unable to be on the course, passed away, that he pressed down the stretch in the finale.
“I tried to make putts that, instead of just allowing it to happen, I tried to force it,” he said. “I know he was at home watching and just really wanted to have him be a part of one last major championship victory. And I didn't get it done and it hurt quite a bit.”
Tiger’s father, Earl Woods, passed away a little more than three weeks later at the age of 74. Still struggling with his loss, Woods missed the cut at the U.S. Open in June.
Woods rebounded with an emotional win at the Open Championship but still regrets what happened in Augusta seven years ago.
“Obviously I didn’t do very good at Winged Foot that year but I won the British Open and one of the reasons why I bawled like a little baby is that he was never going to be there again,” Woods recalled. “But that Masters hurt and there’s never been another defeat that’s felt like that.”
Woods, by the way, completed Thursday's opening round at Bay Hill with a 3-under 69 and, with many golfers in the afternoon wave yet to tee off, was four shots behind playing partner and the leader in the clubhouse, Justin Rose.