Tiger Woods fades from Masters spotlight during final round

By Steve Keating

AUGUSTA, Georgia (Reuters) - A week that began under intense scrutiny for Tiger Woods ended quietly on Sunday, as the world number one was pushed into the background by a rival's heart-warming victory at the Masters.

But the result was not good enough for a combative Woods, who arrived in Augusta expecting to win a fifth Green Jacket.

"I wanted to win this tournament," Woods told reporters. "As the week wore on I kept hitting the ball worse.

"I entered this event and I only enter events to win and I didn't get it done.

"I didn't hit the ball good enough and I made too many mistakes around the greens, consequently I'm not there."


The Masters at one of the world's most exclusive clubs at Augusta National represented the first cautious step in Woods's comeback and the tight security proved to be the perfect re-entry point, shielding him from the tabloid media that had tormented him.

The galleries were mostly welcoming and the reviews of his performance, on and off the golf course, generally positive but the same cannot be guaranteed when he next appears.

The 34-year-old American will have much to consider and his comeback now enters unknown and possibly hostile territory -- wherever that may be.

"I'm going to take a little time off and kind of re-evaluate things," said Woods.

There were definite signs of rust, which were to be expected, but there were also plenty of positives, including a single Masters record equaling four eagles.

The layoff had also done nothing to dull Woods's competitiveness which was on full display during a roller coaster final round.

After a stumbling start to the day with three bogeys in the first five holes, Woods stormed into the turn going eagle, birdie, birdie from the seventh.

He continued his up-and-down play on the back nine, mixing bogeys at the 11th and 14th with a birdie at the 13th followed by another eagle at 15 before signing off with a six-foot birdie putt at the last.

"It was a really tough day," he said. "I felt very uneasy on every shot I hit out there.

"I tried as hard as I possibly could to post a number and give myself a chance.

"I really dug deep to find something and that's something I'm pretty proud of."

BEST Behavior

Gaining control of his game is sure to be easier than gaining control of his emotions, which Woods has made a priority as he tries to repair his battered image.

He had been on his best behavior since arriving at Augusta as he launched a major charm offensive in an effort to win back fans and sponsors.

He had pledged during an interview on Monday to give fans and the game more respect and try to tone down his anger and occasional profanity-laced outburst.

For the second consecutive day, Woods allowed his emotions to get the better of him during the final round and once again he was unapologetic for his intensity on the course.

"I think people are making way too much of a big deal of this thing," said Woods. "I'm not going to be walking around there with a lot of pep because I hadn't hit a good shot yet."

(Editing by Greg Stutchbury)