PONTE VEDRA BEACH: His hand on his hip, Tiger Woods skulked over to the long grass, bent down, tore a tuft out of the ground and threw it into the wind.
Yes, just as he thought, the gust was coming from behind him. But, no, it wasnt blowing as strongly as hed guessed.
The result: a splash in the water fronting the green on No. 4, the first of three balls Woods put in the drink Sunday at The Players Championship.
That was part of a frustrating even-par round of 72 that left him tied for 11th.
I could have stayed home and it would have been the same score, Woods said. Instead, I came out there and created a few more gray hairs.
Woods finished at 6-under-par 282 11 strokes behind winner Davis Love III _ and failed to finish in the top 10 for the first time since the British Open last year. It ended a streak of 10 straight top-10 finishes.
In one of his most remarkably uneven rounds in recent memory, he made two eagles, two double bogeys and placed those three balls into the water a staggering number for the worlds best player.
His second water ball came on the par-5 11th hole and resulted in bogey. By then, he was already five strokes off the lead on a blustery day at the TPC at Sawgrass, his chances gone for a fourth tournament victory in five events this year.
Given conditions like that, you have to hit the ball well, and I wasnt able to do that for 18 holes, he said.
His final water ball came where else? on the 17th island hole, a ball he raked across just enough to make it float through the air.
Soon after, a disappointing week came to an end. After holing out on No. 18, he took off his cap and covered his face in mock shame, drawing laughs from the crowd.
What to make of Woods week at the Players, four days in which he never really found his swing?
In 2001, he won here, then went on to win the Masters. Last year, he finished 14th and yes went on to win the Masters.
My game is fine, he said. I know what I need to do. Its just a matter of doing it and trusting it.
When Im at home, Ill get the reps in and Ill feel a lot more comfortable than I do now. AP