KIAWAH ISLAND — Tiger Woods has played the game of golf with a singular focus that made him the greatest player on the planet.
He was driven to win every tournament. He was all business, all the time. It was part of his personality.
Tied for the lead after 36 holes in the PGA Championship at Kiawah Island’s Ocean Course, Woods decided to step out of character on Saturday. He wanted to enjoy the third round of the tournament. To sit back and live in the moment. He relaxed.
It would end up costing Woods any chance of winning his 15th major title.
Woods bogeyed four of the first eight holes in a rain-shortened third round Saturday and never was able to recover or get into serious contention.
Woods, who has not won a major championship since capturing the PGA title in 2007, finished the tournament at 2-under par 296, 11 shots behind winner Rory McIlroy.
“I came out with the wrong attitude (Saturday),” Woods said.
“I was too relaxed and tried to enjoy it and that’s not how I play. I play intense and full systems go. And it cost me.”
When pressed, Woods had no explanation as to why he changed his approach going into the weekend of a major tournament. In the end, Woods decided that he tried to be something that he wasn’t.
“I was just trying to enjoy it, enjoy the process of it,” Woods said. “I was just trying to be, a little bit happy out there. That’s not who I am. I’m intense and I’m focused on what I’m doing and nothing else matters. ... That’s how I won 14 of these things.
“I don’t know why I did it. It was a bad move on my part.”
Woods returned to his old self on Sunday and played a solid, albeit, unspectacular round. He started the day at 2-under and birdied the second and seventh holes to get to 4-under.
“I played better today,” Woods said. “I putted really well today. I just didn’t give myself enough good looks.”
Woods has been in contention in three of the four majors this year. He is still optimistic he can win another major and catch Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18.
“The key is putting myself there each and every time and I’ll start getting them again,” Woods said. “I’m not going to win them all.”