DUBLIN, Ohio -- Sustaining success is never easy in golf, and even Tiger Woods can be excused for an off week.
But his performance at the Memorial Tournament was nonetheless surprising, given his 2013 record in general, and his past play at Muirfield Village Golf Club in particular.
Woods had visions of winning a season's fifth tournament prior to the U.S. Open for the first time and a sixth Memorial title overall, but instead headed back to Florida with one of the worst 72-hole performances of his career.
With his third triple-bogey of the tournament, Woods on Sunday rallied to shoot even-par 72 -- after coming into the week having shot 15 of his last 16 rounds under par -- to finish 20 strokes behind winner Matt Kuchar in a tie for 65th.
"Yeah, it happens," said Woods, who finished on the front nine while the leaders were playing the closing holes. "It happens to all of us. I'll go home next week and practice."
Next up is the U.S. Open at Merion, which Woods visited last Tuesday and where he will attempt to win his 15th major championship. June 16 -- the final round of the U.S. Open -- will mark the five-year anniversary of his last major title, at the 2008 U.S. Open.
Asked what he needed to work on this week, Woods said, "Everything. You want everything clicking on all cylinders, especially at the U.S. Open, because everything is tested in the U.S. Open."
Woods needed 29 putts in the fourth round Sunday after taking 30 in each of the first three for a total of 119 -- or 19 more than he needed to win at Doral and 17 more than he took in winning at Bay Hill. Those were exceptional putting weeks, but Woods concurred that his putting was a problem at Muirfield Village.
"I didn't putt very well," he said. "I had bad speed all week. I thought the greens didn't look that fast, but they were putting fast. I could never get the speed of them."
The tie for 65th was his worst finish on the PGA Tour since he tied for 78th at the no-cut WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone in 2010. In events that have a 36-hole cut, it was his worst finish since a tie for 67th at the 1997 Memorial.
For his 17-year PGA Tour career, Woods has missed just nine cuts and now has only 13 other finishes of 40th or worse. It's an amazingly low number for 301 starts, especially compared with 78 wins and 182 top 10s.
This was just the fourth time he has finished 60th or worse in a tournament, the first coming in his opening event as a pro -- the 1996 Greater Milwaukee Open, where he tied for 60th.
And this was not easy to see coming. Woods, whose worst previous finish this year on the PGA Tour was a tie for 37th at the Honda Classic (he also missed the cut on the European Tour's Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship), had won three of his last four starts, with a tie for fourth at the Masters.
Three weeks ago, Woods had one of his best overall performances in capturing The Players Championship, running his victory total to seven in the last 15 months and solidifying his position as the No. 1-ranked player in the world.
But he had a strange week at Muirfield Village, where he's won five times but also now has three of his worst 72-hole finishes. Woods tied for 67th here in 1997 and tied for 51st in 1998.
He made five birdies on Thursday but also had four bogeys to shoot 1-under 71. Things started to go poorly on Friday, where he made the first of two double-bogeys at the par-5 15th hole. On Saturday, he made a triple at the 18th that led to a back-nine 44 -- his worst score for nine holes as a professional. All of this was done without the benefit of penalty strokes.
"It's just one of those weeks. It happens," Woods said. "This week I obviously didn't putt well. I had some funky stances. At Honda, I had two lost balls. It just happens, happened to be one of those weeks."