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* First triple bogey in a major for nine years by Woods
* Former world number one finishes tied for third spot
By Ed Osmond
LYTHAM ST ANNES, England, July 22 (Reuters) - Tiger Woods knelt down to play an extraordinary bunker escape shot on the way to an ugly triple-bogey seven which cost him a chance of winning the British Open on Sunday.
The 14-times major champion carded a final-round 73 to finish in a tie for third spot with fellow American Brandt Snedeker, four shots behind champion Ernie Els of South Africa.
Woods parred the first five holes as he sought to overturn a five-shot deficit on overnight leader Adam Scott before finding a greenside bunker at the sixth.
The American’s first attempt to get out from inches away from the wall at the front rebounded back and just avoided hitting Woods.
The former world number one then sank to his knees perched on the edge of the trap and, with one leg extended to keep his balance, he managed to make a strong contact with his ball which struck the lip of the bunker and squirted out across the green.
Woods, who birdied the sixth hole in his opening three rounds, then missed a 40-foot putt for bogey and a five-footer for double-bogey before gratefully sinking his third attempt.
“The problem is if I played left I wasn’t assured I could get it to the gallery and get it out of that slope because if it rolls back in the bunker and I’m on the downslope then I’ve got no backswing,” Woods told reporters.
“The game plan was to fire it into the bank, have it ricochet to the right and then have an angle to come back at it. Unfortunately it ricocheted to the left and almost hit me.”
Woods’s first triple-bogey in a major since 2003 left him six shots behind Scott with 12 holes to play but he quickly got one back with a brilliant chip-in for birdie at the seventh.
Further bogeys at the ninth, 13th, 14th and 15th holes sealed his fate but he strode smiling down the 18th fairway to warm applause from the galleries and finished with a flourish by holing a 10-foot putt for a birdie at the last.
“Overall I’m pleased with the way I played, unfortunately just a couple here and there ended up costing me some momentum, especially today at six,” Woods said.
“Again, I left a lot of putts short out there. The greens were a little bit slow and I tried to put some more hit in my stroke but they were dying off the front of the lip.” (Editing by Tony Jimenez)