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Sunday, July 22, 2012
Updated: July 24, 7:41 PM ET
Tiger Woods unravels with 73

ESPN.com news services

LYTHAM ST. ANNES, England -- Tiger Woods' hopes for a 15th major championship all but ended with a triple-bogey on the sixth hole during the final round of the Open Championship on Sunday at Royal Lytham & St. Annes.

Woods tried to blast out of a bunker from a plugged lie, stayed in the bunker, and three-putted for triple-bogey at the par-4 sixth.

Still with an outside chance after a birdie on the 12th, he stuck with his conservative plan of hitting iron off the tee and made three straight bogeys. He closed with a 73 to tie for third with Brandt Snedeker.

Woods had his best finish in a major since he lost to Y.E. Yang in the 2009 PGA Championship, though he remains winless in his last 17.

He is 13-over on the weekend at this year's three majors.

"It's part of golf," said Woods, who moves to No. 2 in the world. "We all go through these phases. Some people, it lasts entire careers. Others are a little bit shorter. Even the greatest players to ever play have all gone through little stretches like this."

There was just enough wind to make the 206 bunkers at Royal Lytham look a little bit bigger. And as the gusts increased, a calm week turned chaotic.

It started with Woods on the sixth hole, his first triple-bogey at a major championship since he lost his ball on the opening hole at Royal St. George's in 2003.

"One yard," he said to his caddie, a measure of the miss. It plugged near the steep wall of a pot bunker.

Instead of chipping to the middle of the bunker, Woods tried to get out with a ferocious swing. The ball smacked into the wall, nearly hit him and wound up near the left wall. He sat on the grass, his left knee (which has gone through four surgeries) flexed underneath him, his right leg extended as he dipped his upper body toward the sand to make a swing. This one also hit the ball, and caromed around and out to the right. From there, he three-putted for a 7.

"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," Woods said. "Unfortunately, it ricocheted to the left and almost hit me."

Just like that, he was seven shots behind. It was the second time this year that one of golf's biggest stars made triple-bogey in the final round of a major while in contention.

Phil Mickelson made his on the fourth hole at the Masters and never recovered.

Neither did Woods.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.