The 14-time major victor eventually finished three shots behind eventual champion Francesco Molinari. His 76 had plunged him from his opening lead shared with impressive 24-year-old Californian Xander Schauffele and Kevin Kisner, and Spieth never did make a birdie yet felt encouraged, particularly with his putting.
Ultimately, Molinari’s technique held up amid the fiercest pressure.
Another dropped shot followed at the next hole and Woods was unable to recover. “There were a bunch of guys with a chance to win, and I was one of them”.
“It’s been a tough fight”, Molinari said modestly.
“Sometimes I have a few drinks, ” said Pepperell, who finished as Woods was in the lead.
“I knew I was coming in with some good golf”.
While Scott lamented his closing 2-over 73, Day’s 3-under 68 – the second-lowest round of the day – came too little too late.
Up to that point he had been overshadowed by his playing partner, who made the turn in the outright lead only to lose momentum dropping three shots in two holes.
Woods, playing at his first British Open since 2015, rolled back the clocks on Saturday with a sizzling 66 – his best round at an Open since winning at a similarly parched Hoylake in 2006.
My pre-event picks, except for rank outsider, Thorbjorn Olesen, were as good as dead after round one and I dropped a clanger by not laying my stakes back on in-running pick, Jon Rahm. They ran out of holes.
The 14-time major champion got into a bit of trouble by finding greenside bunkers on both the 8 and 9 holes, but he was able to get up and down both times to preserve momentum.
He had birdied the fourth and sixth holes and watched others implode around him to get in the Sunday lead of a major championship for the first time since the 2011 Masters.
The moment Schauffele’s approach stopped short on the 18th green the celebrations could start. “And then whatever happened happened, where we just were in the strangest spots possible on the golf course, you know, where we didn’t think we would be”.
Schauffele made bogies on Nos.
But a double-bogey at the par-four 11th, where he failed to pull off a delicate flop shot from beyond the green, proved the undoing of the 14-times major champion.
But while past year Spieth survived a wobble in the final round at Royal Birkdale to take the title, this time he was too erratic, not recovering from a bogey at the fifth that was followed by a double-bogey at the long sixth where his second shot found a gorse bush.
“It’s just going to go in the memory bank as a positive”, said Schauffele, who was playing only his second British Open. “I had a chance to win a major championship”.
“Clearly, in my group, the attention wasn’t really on me, let’s put it that way”.
“I was a little hung over”.
And then it all went wrong.
He was a forgotten figure when he teed off in the final round of the British Open, mainly because he was playing with Tiger Woods, and because of the star power around him. “I won’t lie. I had too much to drink last night”, he said after shooting 67 and finishing in a three-way tie for sixth.