First and foremost, let me set the record straight: Tiger Woods was not flustered, bothered or shaken up from his illegal drop penalty in his second round at the Masters. His round on Sunday had nothing to do with what happened two days prior. At all. Not even a little.
Now that that's out of the way, let's take a closer look at what really went wrong with Tiger in his final round.
Major championships are won and lost on the putting green. Anyone who watched the final three holes (playoff included) for Angel Cabrera and eventual winner Adam Scott was shown proof of that. As has been his same story year-in and year-out, Tiger Woods' success depends solely on how well he is putting.
In his three wins this season, Woods has putted out of his mind. Take his victory at the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill as an example. Woods finished that tournament in the bottom 10 percent of the field in driving accuracy and the bottom 50 percent in greens hit in regulation. But Tiger lead the field in putting. He never missed a putt that week inside 10 feet.
Fast-forward to Sunday at the Masters. After shooting 70-71-70 in his first three rounds, Tiger knew he needed to go low in his final round to have a chance. He would later admit that the number he had in mind for his round was 65, or 7-under par. It would have gotten him to 10-under par for the tournament.
Scott and Cabrera finished regulation play tied at 9-under par; 10-under would have won Tiger the tournament.
"I thought 65 would win it outright," Woods said. "I thought that was going to be the number.
"If I would have shot my number, it might have been a different story."
This is not to say Tiger didn't have his chances during the round. After four straight pars, Tiger dropped a shot at the par-4 No. 5 hole and another at the par-4 No. 7 hole. Nothing seemed to be working for the world's top-ranked golfer; I even wrote him off as he made the turn. Of course, I overlooked his first birdie of the day at hole No. 9.
And then he birdied hole No. 10. And then he nearly chipped-in for birdie on No. 11.
Suddenly, Tiger showed signs of life at 4-under par, standing on the 11th tee box. All the while, however, Augusta National was pelted with rain and the course was changing in front of the players' eyes.
"It's one of those things where this golf course was playing a little bit tricky," he said. "We had four different green speeds out there and I couldn't believe how slow they were the first two days. [Saturday], I couldn't believe how fast they were. And then today, it was another different speed again."
Woods started putting a little better on the second nine, but that opening stretch -- the first eight holes -- which he played in 2-over par expanded the gap and made it too much to make up coming in on the back. He burned the edges with a chip at No. 11 and a putt at No. 12, near-misses that would have put Woods in the mix with Adam Scott and Angel Cabrera. Tiger even still had a shot to make it interesting on the 16th green, after getting must-make birdies at two par-5s, but he sent his birdie putt below the hole, failing to take advantage of his tee shot right into that traditional front-left pin location.
That miss on No. 16 officially sealed things, as the putter left him once again. Blame it on the rain and the different speed, but that club was not where it's been all season and it's what cost him contention on Sunday.