Tiger Getting Closer

Tiger Woods was looking good before the final round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. After carding a 6-under 66 Saturday in the European Tour event, he was tied for the lead with England's Robert Rock at 11-under 205.

But on Sunday Woods faltered, while Rock soared. For only the ninth time in 61 events in his illustrious career, Woods did not take advantage of a solo or shared 54-hole lead and go on to win the tournament. Woods closed with an even-par 72 and Rock had a 70 to take the title at Abu Dhabi Golf Club.

While seemingly in control of his game throughout the first three rounds, which got incrementally better before Sunday with scores of 70, 69 and 66, Woods went backward when it mattered most, primarily because of a wayward swing that saw him hit only two fairways and six greens in regulation. As a result, he wasn't able to log his first victory in a full-field event since November 2009.

Woods, who received a reported $1.5 million appearance fee for the tournament, admitted that his game wasn't up to snuff in the last round. Here's what he told reporters during a Q&A after he finished in a tie for third two shots behind Rock - and Rory McIlroy in second - with Graeme McDowell and Thomas Bjorn.

Q. You were 2 under par through three holes. What happened?

TIGER WOODS: I misjudged the wind two times and I hit two bad pitches right in a row, two holes back to back. I think the turning point for me was at 10 today, because I had just birdied 9 to cut it and I hit the most beautiful little wedge in there into 10, and I don't know how it did what it did because from our view, it looked pretty good. It looked like it was going to be a kick in. Next thing you know, I'm making bogey. So it was a big turnaround there and I never closed the gap after that.

Q. How do you think your swing held up under Sunday pressure?

TIGER WOODS: I didn't hit the ball as well as I would like to. I putted beautifully the last three days. Didn't putt well the first day. Today I was just a touch off. I was righting the ball through the fairways. I was hitting the ball a little bit further than I thought I would. A couple of my 3 woods were going about 320 which I don't normally do but they were getting out there. A couple of my irons were going further than they are supposed to. So something to look at, and something to try and figure out.

Q. Take the positives of a strong finish, or do you take away the negatives of not getting a victory?

TIGER WOODS: It's both. It has to be both, because obviously the ultimate goal is to win and I didn't win. I played well enough I thought to win the golf tournament; unfortunately I just didn't get it done.

Q. Assess the day.

TIGER WOODS: You know, I just felt I was just a touch off. I was telling Steve over there, I said a couple of the balls were going further than I thought they normally would. A couple of my 3 woods went about 320 and a couple of my iron shots, 8 iron from 180 and numbers I don't normally hit. So got to kind of reassess that and try to figure that out.

Q. You say reassess it; in what respect do you go home now, how many tournaments do you have before the Masters, because it's very much full eye on practice up until the Masters, because the green jacket is the ultimate goal next. How hard do you practice between now and then?

TIGER WOODS: I've got a week off to get ready for Pebble and then we have a couple of big events, a couple of World Golf Championships. So there's plenty of big events to go, but I'm pleased at the progress I've made so far. Basically since Australia, my stroke play events have been pretty good. So I just need to keep building, keep getting more consistent, and today was a day where I putted beautifully. Just didn't give myself enough looks.

Q. What about a word for Robert Rock.

TIGER WOODS: Robert played great today. He was solid, consistent, he didn't do anything wrong today. He was in play, made a couple key up and downs here and there, but overall just kept the ball right in front of him. He did hit a couple of beautiful iron shots down the stretch and made a couple putts.

Q. Immediate thoughts, 72 holes completed here in Abu Dhabi?

TIGER WOODS: Well, I didn't win. I was right there with a chance, and just didn't get it done today.

Q. And your thoughts now with regards to the bigger picture, where you're at, where you're headed and what's coming up for you?

TIGER WOODS: Well, I hit the ball beautifully all week which I'm very pleased about. Today were a couple of surprises out there. As I was telling Steve earlier, I hit a couple 3 woods that went 320 and that's something I don't normally do. So I had to figure out why the ball was going further than it should today. I hit a couple 8 irons I hit 180. So I've got to figure that out, because I was hitting the ball further than I normally do, and even with the adrenaline, the ball was just going further today.

Q. Robert Rock, the ultimate winner, you played alongside him; what did you think of his performance?

TIGER WOODS: He played solid and kept the ball in front of him today. He didn't do anything wrong. He made just one or two mistakes here and there, but hit a couple beautiful iron shots on the back nine and made a couple key putts to extend the lead. He never gave up.

Q. Do you feel like there's a "W" around the corner?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, the tournament right before this I won, yeah, you guys tend to forget that. (Laughter).

Q. You had a good start today, it seemed a little difficult judging the right distances with the wind swirling around, or were you just trying so hard to shoot a low round?

TIGER WOODS: I hit two bad shots over there on 4 and 5 and then hit two bad pitches and consequently made two bogeys there. But you know, today was a day where I had a chance, and Robert just played real solid all day. As I said earlier, he kept the ball in front of him. He didn't do anything wrong today and he hit a couple key iron shots on the back nine to give himself two good looks and he made them.

Q. You may not have achieved your goal of winning here but the third spot is certainly not a bad tournament result. Does it give you confidence?

TIGER WOODS: I hit the ball good enough to win the golf tournament this week. I didn't put good the first day; figured that out, and putted beautifully the last three days. Today I just didn't give myself enough looks at it. Most of my putts were lag putts. I didn't drive the ball in as many fairways as I should have. Some of the balls were running through. Other balls, I was just missing. It was a day I was just a touch off of the tee and consequently I couldn't get the ball close enough to give myself looks. When I did give myself looks I made them, but there weren't enough.

The transcript for the above interview is courtesy of ASAP Sports.

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