Tiger Woods tosses his club after a chip-in attempt for eagle on the second hole lips out of the cup Sunday during the final round of the Masters. Woods later encountered much bigger problems – carding a 10 on the 12th hole – before closing his round with five birdies in the last six holes for a 76. Chris Carlson/Associated Press

AUGUSTA, Ga. — This was a very imperfect 10 for Tiger Woods.

The defending Masters champion recorded a septuple-bogey 10 on the 12th hole of the final round – the highest score on any hole in his career.

Woods plunked three balls into Rae’s Creek on Sunday in front of the green on Augusta National’s signature 155-yard par 3. The carnage at Amen Corner dropped him from 3 under to 4 over, and only a late string of birdies saved him from matching his worst Masters round ever.

“This sport is awfully lonely sometimes,” Woods said. “No one is going to bring you off the mound or call in a sub. You have to fight through it.

“You just have to turn around and figure out the next shot. And I was able to do that coming home,” said Woods, who followed the debacle at No. 12 with birdies on five of the last six holes to finish with a 4-over 76. He was 1 under for the tournament, tied for 38th.

The 15-time major champion usually draws the biggest galleries in golf, but only a few dozen people were watching Sunday because of the coronavirus pandemic that delayed the tournament from the spring and limited crowds to Augusta National members, coaches and players’ significant others.

They were left counting on their fingers, trying to keep track of all of his shots at the par 3 known as Golden Bell.

Entering the final round 11 strokes behind leader Dustin Johnson, Woods had all but seen his pursuit of a sixth green jacket end by the time he arrived at No. 12, following bogeys on the fifth, seventh and 10th holes that left him 2 over for the day.

His tee shot landed on the far bank of the creek and rolled back into the water. Woods said he misread the wind on that shot when it shifted after his two playing partners already had hit.

“That just started the problem,” he conceded. “From there, I hit a lot more shots and had a lot more experiences there in Rae’s Creek.”

After a drop, he hit his third shot a little farther but it, too, rolled back into the water. His third attempt to clear the creek – shot No. 5 – went into a bunker behind the green.

Left with an awkward uphill stance – his right leg extended and his left almost completely bent – Woods flew the green on his sixth shot and plunked it into the water. He went back to the bunker, bounced up and down a couple of times to get comfortable in the same crooked stance, and put shot No. 8 on the green, about 12 feet from the pin.

His first putt slid by the left edge of the hole, leaving him a tap-in for 10. All that was left for Woods was to finish the round and head to Butler Cabin to slip the green jacket onto his successor’s shoulders.

“I’ve hit a few too many shots (more) than I wanted to today, and I will not have the chairman be putting the green jacket on me,” he conceded while Johnson and the rest of the leaders were still on the course. “I’ll be passing it on.”

Last year at No. 12, Woods was propelled to his fifth Masters title when four contenders dumped their shots into Rae’s Creek. In the four rounds of his 2019 victory, he parred the 12th all four days.

Woods needed only eight strokes combined to play the hole in his first three rounds this year. But Sunday’s misadventures erased what had been a respectable title defense and set Woods on course for what could have matched his worst score ever at the Masters: a third-round 77 as a 19-year-old amateur making his first appearance in 1995.

“That’s what makes this game so unique and so difficult mentally,” he said. “We’ve all been there, unfortunately. Unfortunately, I’ve been there.”

The good news: Woods probably needs to wait only five months to try again. The last major in 2020 is scheduled to be the first 2021 if the pandemic allows it to return to its usual spring slot.

“Hopefully if everything continues the way it is going right now, then we’re able to have this event in April,” Woods said.

CAMERON SMITH pulled off a feat that had never been done before at the Masters.

All it got him was a silver medal.

Until Sunday, no player had ever posted four straight rounds in the 60s at Augusta National.

Smith did it with an up-and-down par off the front of the green at the 72nd hole, giving him a 3-under 69 for the final round.

On the heels of shooting 67, 68 and 69 over the first three rounds, Smith finished with a 15-under total that would’ve been good enough to win most years.

Not in 2020.

Dustin Johnson blew away the field with a record-breaking 20-under score, propelling him to a five-shot victory over the 27-year-old Australian and South Korea’s rising star, Sungjae Im.

“It would have been cool to do that and win,” Smith said “I would take 15 under around here for the rest of my career. I might win a couple. That’s just the way it is.”

The runner-up score (278) would have been good enough to win all but seven times in Masters history.

But Smith and Im will have to wait until April to make another run at the green jacket.

Im had no complaints. The 22-year-old was playing in his first Masters and had never even been on the course until a Monday practice round.

“This is definitely going to be a memorable Masters for me, not only because this is my first appearance, but my initial goal at the start of the week was just to make a cut and get into the weekend,” he said through a translator. “To finish tied for second is unbelievable.”

OLD-TIMERS DAY: If they gave out an award for the best-finishing player from the PGA Tour Champions, 63-year-old Bernhard Langer would have collected the prize.

The two-time Masters winner from Germany shot a 1-under 71 in the final round to finish at 3-under 285 – the best score among three 50-and-older players who made the cut. Mike Weir (290) and Phil Mickelson (291) are 13 years younger and only became eligible for the PGA Tour Champions this year.

Langer also finished one stroke ahead of U.S. Open champion Bryson DeChambeau, who was the longest hitter in the tournament with an average of 324 yards per drive. Langer was last of the 60 who made the cut, averaging 260 yards.

“I felt right in the middle of it, in the thick of it,” said Langer, who played with DeChambeau in the final round. “I got to experience the longest guys in the world right now, and it’s quite amazing. Different game.”

RORY’S MCILROY’S quest for the career Grand Slam remains on hold.

McIlroy finished in a tie for fifth with an 11-under 277 – nine strokes behin Dustin Johnson, but still a nice recovery after opening with a 75.

“I guess I need to take the positives,” McIlroy said. “I played the last 54 really well and only made two bogeys in that 54-hole stretch, which is probably the best run of golf I’ve played here.”

It was McIlroy’s sixth top-10 finish in 12 appearances at the Masters, which remains the only major to elude him.

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