For a few minutes, early Sunday morning, Tiger Woods had everyone thinking he was back. The long time legend held a first place lead for about 38 minutes.
After holding the lead, Woods found himself on the 11th hole and suddenly paused and dropped his eyes to the ball next to his feet. When he returned his glance to the distant green, indecision was written across his face. He looked unsure, dealing with an unfamiliar factor: self-doubt.
In time, Woods swatted at the ball, but it squirted left until it came to rest, 170 yards away, in another patch of gnarly turf. A hesitant, cautious chip followed, but the ball was still not on the green.
Minutes later, Woods’s magical, dizzying chase for a 15th major golf title — and his first in 10 years — sputtered and staggered in the wake of the ugly double bogey on No. 11.
The unsteadiness continued on the next hole.
Woods did not turn back the clock, after all. He was 42 years old, not 32, and 10 years is a long time to be off the biggest stage. Even the great Tiger Woods, whose final-round score of 71 gave him a tie for sixth place, learned that summoning a champion’s resolve on command after a lengthy layoff might be one of the more difficult tasks in sports.