AUGUSTA, Ga. -- A week that began with so much promise ended in disappointment on Sunday for Tiger Woods.
The No. 1-ranked player in the world will return to Augusta National in 2014 having gone nine years without winning the Masters, a streak that continued because of his overall inconsistency in the year's first major championship.
Woods shot 2-under-par 70 on Sunday, doomed by an over-par front nine and the two-stroke penalty he incurred from Friday's improper drop on the 15th hole.
"I certainly had a chance. If I would have posted a number today, I was right there," Woods said. "I was four back starting out the day and I thought I really played well this week. I made my share of putts as well."
Woods was coming off two impressive victories on the PGA Tour and figured to be a force here -- even after a controversial rules infraction that could have had him disqualified.
That resulted in a two-stroke penalty, but Woods entered the final round just four strokes out of the lead, a low final round away from a possible fifth green jacket.
But he couldn't make a move until it was too late.
Woods birdied the ninth, 10th, 12th and 13th holes and then gave himself a chance for an eagle at the 15th, where he two-putted for another birdie. And when he hit his tee shot about 10 feet behind the hole at the par-3 16th, there was a chance to get within 2 strokes of the lead.
But the putt slid by on the low side, and Woods was simply out of holes.
There certainly will be conjecture about the two-shot penalty and how much of an impact that had, but Woods also missed three putts on Saturday inside 5 feet -- including a 2-footer at the eighth hole that circled the cup and stayed out.
"Well, we could do a what-if on every tournament we lose," Woods said. "We lose more tournaments than we win. But I certainly had my opportunities to post some good rounds this week. I thought I really played well, I missed a few putts this week, but also I made my share as well. I made a bunch of 10- to 15-footers. So overall it was a pretty good week."
On Sunday, he again was unable to birdie the par-5 second -- he parred it all four days -- and also saw other opportunities get away from him.
Unlike his victories at Doral and Bay Hill, Woods was not as sharp on the greens, and noted in earlier rounds that they were not as fast as previous years. He appeared to struggle without that throughout, leaving several putts short.
"Yeah, I really struggled with the green speeds starting out," Woods said. "I couldn't believe how much slower they were even this is before it rained. I just couldn't believe how slow they were starting out. Because yesterday they were so fast and they were crusty, they were running out, and I think the first eight holes I didn't think I got a putt to the hole. Everything was short or low-sided.
"So finally on 9, I said I'm going to hit this putt past the hole and it just snuck in on the front lip."
Nonetheless, this was Woods' seventh top-six finish in the past eight Masters.
He will head to Merion for the U.S. Open in June having gone five years without adding to his major championship victory total of 14.