One yard makes all the difference for Tiger

Another major, another miss by Tiger Woods, who insisted after finishing tied for third at the Open Championship on Sunday that his lengthening win drought does not unduly concern him.

"It's part of golf. We all go through these phases. Some people it lasts entire careers. Others are a little bit shorter," he said.

"Even the greatest players to ever play have all gone through little stretches like this.

"When your playing careers last 40 and 50 years, you're going to have stretches like this."

The 36-year-old American's last win in a major came at the 2008 US Open, after which his marriage was wrecked by a sex scandal and he was crippled by knee and ankle injuries.

Woods had the consolation of posting his best finish at the British Open since he won the Claret Jug for the third time at Hoylake in 2006.

And he managed to stay well in contention throughout the tournament until he fell victim to Royal Lytham's notorious pot bunkers, taking a devastating triple-bogey seven at the sixth hole.

That left him seven shots behind Adam Scott and although he managed to claw his way back to five under with a birdie at the par-three 12th, bogeys at the next three holes ended his hopes.

Ernie Els motored past him and then mowed down Scott for a stunning victory.

Woods, who played ultra-conservative golf for most of the week, said that he had a clear game plan in mind for Sunday's finale only for his five-iron approach to the sixth to land just one yard away from where he wanted.

"I was right there, the game plan was to shoot under par going out. And with the wind the way it was blowing, I was right there in position," he said.

"I was even par through five. And seven was reachable today. And nine was playing easy. So I was in position to do what I wanted to do and then turn home and shoot maybe two under par on the back nine and I would have posted an eight or nine under par.

"And I thought that was going to be the number to win the golf tournament. I thought eight was a playoff, nine was to win outright. Unfortunately I just didn't do it."

With Scott bogeying the last four holes after being 10-under at the 14th, Els eventually won the tournament at seven under.

There was one anxious moment when Woods winced and clutched at his leg after playing from a kneeling position in executing his second attempt to get out of the fateful bunker at the sixth.

But he insisted afterwards that there had been no problem.

"I finally feel like I'm really healthy. And I've got my pop back in my swing. So I'm hitting the ball distances I know I can," he said.

"Unfortunately when I get out here with a little bit of adrenaline, it goes a little bit further, too.

"It's a combination of having my strength and my speed back, at the same time playing tournament golf. It's not that far off."

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