PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – Tiger Woods stood on the 16th tee Saturday 6 under par total and six strokes off the lead and thinking that a strong finish would put him back in the tournament.
“If I posted 8 (under), I thought I’d be right there,” he said.
Instead Woods finished 5-4-5 and ended up 4 under par, at 70-71-71–212. That meant he was eight behind before leader Westwood got started in Round 3. At the end of the day, Woods was 10 back.
“If you’re just a little off on this golf course, it’s going to show,” Woods said.
Woods played the back nine in a swirling wind. And he finished it with something of a worst-case scenario. At the par-5 16th, his second clipped a tree and he hit a poor chip that didn’t reach the green. He three-putted the island 17th for bogey after a poor tee shot that went long and left of the front pin. He bogeyed 18 after popping up a 3-wood tee shot 221 yards and missing the green to the right with a fairway wood.
Unfortunately for him, the popup has become part of his repertoire.
“It’s certainly not very good,” he said. “I’m trying to hit a low ball but get so steep that I’m popping it up. When there’s no loft going down, you don’t have much of a chance.”
Still, Woods sounded hopeful, that he’s making progress after having missed the cut by eight strokes the previous week at the Quail Hollow Championship.
“Absolutely,” he said, using one of his pet words. “I hit more good shots today than I have all week. You don’t turn this around overnight. I just need more competition. I’m pleased with what I’ve done this week, how I’ve progressed.”
That’s the latest testimony that the viewing of performance is relative. Early in his remarkable career, Woods said, “Second sucks.” When you’re in a slump, apparently it doesn’t.