By Julian Linden
AUGUSTA, Georgia (Reuters) - Tiger Woods was left to reflect on his bad luck after finishing tied for fourth at the Masters on Sunday.
The world number one shot a final round 70 to finish at five-under, four strokes behind the eventual winner, Australia's Adam Scott, but things might have been different had it not been for a wretched break in his second round.
His approach shot at the par-five 15th was so good that it struck the flagstick, but rather than drop nearby it ricocheted backwards off the green and into Rae's Creek.
Instead of putting for a birdie, Woods was forced to replay the shot and made a bogey. Then the following day he was slapped with a two-stroke penalty for an illegal drop.
He could have been disqualified but officials used their discretion to let him play and a potential birdie hole was turned into a triple-bogey.
Although he came close in the end, Woods never really recovered from his misfortune but refused to blame that one hole for the result.
"We could do that what if-in every tournament we lose," Woods said.
"We lose more tournaments than we win out here on tour, so that's just part of the process and I'll go back to it."
For Woods, there is little consolation in finishing fourth. He measures his success by the number of majors he wins. His lifelong ambition to is break Jack Nicklaus' record of 18 but he has been stranded on 14 since 2008.
Despite coming up short again, Woods said there were still plenty of positives he could take away.
He has already won three PGA Tour titles this year and is starting to look like his old self.
The bookmakers installed him as the favourite to win the Masters and crowds at Augusta National still adore him, cramming the fairways and greens to see him in action and erupting in wild excitement whenever he conjured up some of his old magic.
"I certainly had a chance. If I would have posted a number today, I was right there," he 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.
"I played this week the way I've been playing all year, and that's a good sign."
(Editing by Frank Pingue)