KIAWAH ISLAND, S.C. (AP) — Tiger Woods is done enjoying golf, especially at majors.
Woods said his 4-over start on Saturday before rain delayed the third round put him so far behind he could never catch up at the PGA Championship. The reason? Woods, who shared the lead through two rounds, said he tried a different tactic, to relax and have fun.
“I was just trying to be, you know, a little bit happy out there and enjoy it,” Woods said. “Unfortunately, that’s not how I play.”
Happy Tiger missed a short birdie putt on No. 3 on Saturday, then made bogeys on three of his next four holes. Woods faced a 7-footer for par on No. 8 when heavy rain delayed things until Sunday morning. He missed the putt for another bogey to fall six shots behind eventual champion Rory McIlroy.
It was the latest example of Woods playing well early in majors, then watching things go sideways on the weekend. Woods wouldn’t say why he changed, only that he won’t do it again.
“I was trying to enjoy the process,” Woods said. “But that’s not how I play. I play full systems go, all out, intense, and that’s how I won 14 of these things.”
Woods, though, has gone four years without winning any majors, a drought he’d hoped to end at the PGA Championship. Instead, McIlroy blew away the field with an eight-stroke victory. The 23-year-old from Northern Ireland played 13 shots better than Woods over the weekend. And Woods knows the prospect is there for McIlroy to challenge for even more majors in years to come.
“He’s very good. We all know the talent he has,” Woods said.
McIlroy went through a dry spell this year, Woods said, that all great players go through on the way to bigger things. Woods believes he’s in the middle of one right now and says he keeps coming close, he’ll break through again soon.
“The thing is, to keep putting myself there,” he said. “I’m not going to win them all and I haven’t won them all.”
Woods shot a final round 72 after completing his third-round 74.
Woods says he’s on the right track, though. He came out fiery and intense on Sunday and felt more like his old self. He had only three bogeys on his final 28 holes and finished at 286, tied for 11th and 11 shots behind McIlroy.
“I’m intense and I’m focused and nothing else matters,” Woods said. “I got back to that today and I hit some really good shots and I played the way that I know I can play.”
Woods has eight months of waiting — and questions — before his next chance at a major when the Masters comes around next April. “The key is putting myself there each and every time, and you know, I’ll start getting them again,” he said.
Woods almost got a couple this year.
He was tied for the lead at the U.S. Open, yet finished 75-72 on the weekend to end tied for 21st. He shot 67-67-70 and was in contention at the British Open until a final-round 73 dropped him to third.
Sunday at the PGA Championship wasn’t Woods’ day.
It began at 7:45 a.m. with his missed par putt to drop further behind. He let his driver go after a bad shot on the 15th hole into some cactus like stickers right of the fairway. Woods got stuck by several of them and limped his way back to the fairway before picking them off his shoes and slacks.
“It got in both legs — well, left shoe, right shoe, and then in my right leg,” he said. “It itched like hell for about a hole, and it was fine.”
Woods entered the final round five shots behind McIlroy and never made a charge. Then again, McIlroy played like a man who wouldn’t be caught by anyone.
McIlroy won his second major in runaway fashion — he captured the 2011 U.S. Open by eight shots — and then brushed aside the inevitable comparisons to the start of Woods’ career.
“I’ve won my second major at the same age as he had,” McIlroy said of Woods. “But he went on that incredible run like 2000, 2001, 2002 and won so many. You know, I’d love to sit up here and tell you that I’m going to do the same thing, but I just don’t know.”
Woods isn’t worried about who golf’s next great star is, just about what tournament’s next after this one. “We’ve got a lot of golf to be played the rest of the year, some big events coming up and the Ryder Cup at the end of it,” Woods said. “So looking forward to that.”