This was despite Woods' insane 44-foot birdie putt on the 17th hole on Sunday that put him in contention.
He went 15 holes without a birdie until he brought the Innisbrook course gallery to life with a birdie putt from just inside 45 feet that died into the cup at the par-four 17th, leaving him one shot behind with one hole to play.
Woods hasn't been in this good a position to add to his total since he finished tied for 10th at the Wyndham Championship in August of 2015, and he hasn't lifted a trophy since the 2013 World Golf Championships Bridgestone Invitational.
Building momentum from 12th place at the Honda Classic two weeks ago in his third official tournament since undergoing spinal fusion surgery last April, Woods was treated this week like a returning hero. Today I wasn't quite as sharp as I would have liked to have had it, but I had a good shot at winning this golf tournament.
'I'm looking forward to it [the Masters] and I haven't played Bay Hill in a few years. "I kept getting the half club, just one of those days I couldn't quite get the full club".
But it was precisely Woods' age, 42, and the nearly five years since his last PGA Tour win in the Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone that made Saturday's spectacle in the third round of the Valspar Championship so enticing and potentially monumental for the sport.
The 40-year-old, who won his first tour title in 2009, carded the joint lowest score of the day with a six-under-par 65 to finish on 10 under. Even the players trying to beat Woods got swept up in the emotions of seeing him closer than ever to having a chance to win again. "I've got a little bit better since the last time I played a couple of weeks ago and it was a very hard week - tough conditions on a tough golf course, very demanding and I thought I held up really well".
"I loved his putt on 17".
Ernie Els: "I'm seeing the normal Tiger, the Tiger I've known for 24 years".
As Tiger Woods headed away from the Gulf of Mexico early Sunday evening, pointed east, that is what he left with: At age 42, he can clearly still play.
Reed will look back on one putt.
The 40-year-old has 17 victories on the European Tour, the most recent coming at the KLM Open in September of 2014. I played very conservatively into the greens because I wasn't as sharp as I was yesterday and just tried to hopefully get a couple good numbers and fire at a few flags. So, nice to go back to Orlando. "He's a ball-striking machine and the one thing I can guarantee you 100 per cent is that no one is going to out-think Corey on the golf course".
It was considerably less so on Sunday as Conners bogeyed two of his first three holes and never truly settled in.
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