Tiger Tracker: Woods falls out of contention with 72

Tiger Woods during Round 3 of The Players Championship.

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8:09:33 PM ET. 10/25/2014




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PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – A windy afternoon at TPC Sawgrass brought out a most expressive Tiger Woods -- mostly disappointed expressions, mind you. On Saturday he slumped his shoulders, dropped his head, clasped his hands behind his neck, tapped the ground with his club, looked up at the treetops. Amateur sports psychologists everywhere cringed.

“I played well today,” Woods would say later, “and I didn’t get anything out of that round.”

The former World No. 1 went so far as to say that Saturday’s even-par 72 at the wide-open Players Championship was “probably the most solid I’ve hit the ball all year.” Debate the accuracy of that statement all you want -- the final-round 62 at the Honda Classic comes to mind as a better ballstriking exhibition -- but, no doubt, the man had a point. Woods did hit the ball well in difficult conditions at TPC Sawgrass, where the wind gusted to 30 mph and several hole locations were tucked on shelves. He missed only four fairways. He had birdie putts on all but three greens. But he still hit just enough ordinary shots to remain on the periphery entering Sunday’s final round.

“There’s so much danger out there,” said Woods, who at 2-under 214 is 10 shots behind Kevin Na. “This golf course is set up today where you can go out there and shoot 65, but then again, you can also go shoot something in the 80s pretty easily, too.”

Of course, Woods failing to seriously contend at The Players is nothing new. Let’s keep that in mind. He has but one top-10 finish here since 2002, and the past two years he has withdrawn with injuries. There was little reason to believe he’d be a threat here anyway, based on his past two starts, a career-worst T-40 at Augusta National and a missed cut last week in Charlotte, only the eighth of his illustrious career.

Woods needed a 68 just to make it to the weekend, and he began the third round in a tie for 30th, six shots behind a trio of players. Certainly, he had a chance to make a run on his opening nine. After five consecutive pars to start, Woods missed a 6-foot birdie putt on 6, three-putted from 12 feet on 7, hit the edge on a 7-footer on 8 and couldn’t convert a 12-foot birdie putt on 9. Make those and who knows?

The only par 5 he birdied was No. 11, and he needed a did-you-just-see-that? flop shot from behind the green to do it.

In the end, his 72 didn’t much help him in the pursuit of his first Players title since 2001. When he finished his round, he had slipped to T-34. Only some help and a low round Sunday will put Woods in contention for the title -- OK, a really low one -- and low rounds haven’t come easily to him here. Since 2002, he has only seven rounds in the 60s.

“The golf course ... it’s all about ballstriking,” Woods said. “You can’t fake it around here. It’s amazing how easy the course seems if you’re hitting it well, because everything kind of funnels into these valleys, and you’ve got 15-footers all day. But if you’re off, you’ve got double- and triple-breaking putts. It gets tough.”

• • •

Follow our shot-by-shot account of Tiger's third round with our Tiger Tracker (compiled by our Golfweek staff), and check out our coverage from the first two rounds at Sawgrass, too.

No. 18, Par 4, 447 yards

• Off the tee: Tiger hits it to the left side of the fairway and will have a good look at the green.

• Approach shot: The crowd assembled at No. 18 green applauds Tiger's approach, which rolls to within 20 feet of the hole for one last chance at birdie.

• On the green: Tiger burns the edge of the hole with his birdie putt and settles for yet another par and a third-round 72 that will likely take him out of contention.

TIGER ON THE DAY: Even-par 72 (-2 for the tournament)

• • •

No. 17, Par 3, 137 yards

• Off the tee: Tiger's issues with distance control continue but at least he manages to hold the island green. He flies the ball about 12 yards farther than he needs to, and sticks it on the back of the green. It looks similar to the famous "better than most" putt.

• On the green: A good two-putt for par.

TIGER ON THE DAY: Even (-2 for the tournament)

• • •

No. 16, Par 5, 507 yards

• Off the tee: Another fairway wood off the tee on this par 5, but he finally gets himself in a good enough position to go for the green in two.

• Approach shot: Tiger tugged his approach shot left and will have to execute a tricky pitch to get a good shot at birdie.

• On the green: After an unsuccessful pitch shot, Tiger couldn't convert for birdie. He's birdied only one of the par 5s today.

TIGER ON THE DAY: Even (-2 for the tournament)

• • •

No. 15, Par 4, 449 yards

As he enters the final four holes of the Stadium Course, Tiger needs to pick up a few more birdies, but perhaps most importantly, he needs to avoid any watery slip-ups.

• Off the tee: Another fairway for Tiger as he again pulls 3-wood.

• Approach shot: Tiger still isn't spot-on with his distance control – part of that could be indecision on club selection because of the wind – but his approach shot holds the green and he will have another putt at birdie.

• On the green: A few more revolutions and that birdie putt could have dropped. Instead, Tiger is left with another par.

TIGER ON THE DAY: Even (-2 for the tournament)

• • •

No. 14, Par 4, 467 yards

• Off the tee: Tiger pulls a 3-wood and hits No. 14 fairway for the first time this week.

• Approach shot: Tiger's approach finds the fat part of the green, and he'll have another birdie putt, albeit a long one.

• On the green: Excellent two-putt from 80 feet to save par.

TIGER ON THE DAY: Even (-2 for the tournament)

• • •

No. 13, Par 3, 181 yards

• Off the tee: Tiger takes a considerable amount of time trying to select the right club, and consults caddie Joe LaCava. He finally decides on the 7-iron. His ball lands on the front of the green and rides a slope to about 15 feet short of the hole.

• On the green: Another birdie for Tiger. This gets him back to where he started the day.

TIGER ON THE DAY: Even (-2 for the tournament)

• • •

No. 12, Par 4, 358 yards

Tiger finally has a birdie on his card, though it was a heck of a way to get one. The flop shot at No. 11 was truly magical – the stuff of the old days, you might say.

• Off the tee: Another fairway wood from the tee, another fairway hit. He has 85 yards to the hole.

• Approach shot: For his second shot, Tiger tries to pull off a half-wedge shot. He hits it long and has about 50 feet to the hole. It's tough to get close on this green.

• On the green: Tiger hits a good lag putt from that distance to about a foot and makes the par.

TIGER ON THE DAY: 1 over (-1 for the tournament)

Elsewhere on the course: The final groups are now taking to the first tee. Meanwhile, Rickie Fowler continues to charge. He's now at 7 under, one shot behind the leaders.

• • •

No. 11, Par 5, 535 yards

• Off the tee: Tiger takes driver out of the bag for the second time today and finds another fairway. He really needs to take advantage of this par 5 to get himself back in the tournament.

• Approach shot: Using an iron, Tiger pulls it left of the green, and he'll have to pull off a difficult flop to get on the putting surface. He has very little green to work with, but somehow pulls it off and lands 4 feet from the hole.

• On the green: He makes the 4-footer. Finally, a birdie.

TIGER ON THE DAY: 1 over (-1 for the tournament)

• • •

No. 10, Par 4, 424 yards

• Off the tee: Tiger lands it right in the middle of the fairway and will have 143 yards to the hole.

• Approach shot: Tiger flies over the back of the green, and will have to get up and down if he wants to save par. Still, it's a nearly impossible pitch.

• On the green: Tiger misses the 14-footer for par, he appears to have just misread it, and falls back to even for the tournament.

TIGER ON THE DAY: 2 over (even for the tournament)

• • •

No. 9, Par 5, 583 yards

• Off the tee: The tee has been moved way up on this hole, so Tiger only needs a fairway wood. He tugs it low and left, landing in the rough. He'll have 298 yards to the hole.

• Approach shot: Tiger lays up with his second shot (there would have been no way to reach the green from where his tee shot landed). He's left with 106 yards to the hole, and he puts it to about 15 feet from there. He really needs this birdie.

• On the green: Another par. Tiger ends the front nine with a 37 that easily could have been three or four shots lower.

TIGER ON THE DAY: 1 over (-1 for the tournament)

Elsewhere on the course: The leaders won't tee off for an hour, but already Rickie Fowler is moving up the leaderboard. He's 3 under through six holes and at 6 under for the tournament. Jhonattan Vegas also is 3 under through six, but at 5 under total.

• • •

No. 8, Par 3, 219 yards

The wind doesn't seem to be letting up at TPC Sawgrass. Tiger also doesn't seem to be able to get anything going. He lost more ground with his first bogey, which likely was a lapse in concentration – many members of the gallery had already started walking away from the green thinking he would make it.

• Off the tee: The iron shot into this green is a nice recovery for Tiger, especially considering the difficulty of this par 3. He's inside 10 feet for birdie. Keep in mind he made 2 here yesterday, which started a run of four consecutive birdies.

• On the green: Alas, another par. Another missed opportunity.

TIGER ON THE DAY: 1 over (-1 for the tournament)

• • •

No. 7, Par 4, 442 yards

• Off the tee: With six consecutive pars on the card, Tiger continues to play conservatively. He hits it down the middle with a 3-wood.

• Approach shot: Tiger studied this one, seemingly fooled by the wind. He was successful in keeping his approach low, and he'll have another attempt for birdie -- this time from about 12 feet.

• On the green: Not only did Tiger miss the birdie putt, but he played the par putt firmly, resulting in a vicious lip-out. That's his first bogey today.

TIGER ON THE DAY: 1 over (-1 for the tournament)

• • •

No. 6, Par 4, 393 yards

Just making pars won't cut it if Tiger wants to climb the leaderboard at all today. With about half the field on the course, he's already fallen nine spots

• Off the tee: The sixth is a short par 4, so Tiger uses an iron off the tee. He easily finds the fairways, but the trick to this hole will be on the green. The hole location is tucked in close to a bunker, and a swirling wind isn't helping.

• Approach shot: Tiger just hit his best approach shot of the day. He'll have a 10-footer for birdie.

• On the green: The birdie putt slipped by. Another par.

TIGER ON THE DAY: Even (-2 for the tournament)

• • •

No. 5, Par 4, 466 yards

• Off the tee: Tiger pulls the big stick for the first time on Saturday. It's a good move because this hole is playing directly into the wind. He's close to finding the fairway, but lands in the left collar instead.

• Approach shot: With the wind howling in his face, Tiger hits a textbook knock-down shot. He'll have a putt for birdie, but it's lengthy.

• On the green: That 45-footer doesn't make it, but it's an easy par.

TIGER ON THE DAY: Even (-2 for the tournament)

• • •

No. 4, Par 4, 384 yards

• Off the tee: Tiger uses a 5-wood off the tee, comes over the top and hooks it in the left rough. That will make for an interesting approach shot to what is already a firm green.

• Approach shot: This side-sloping lie couldn't be much worse. He would need to hit a powerful shot just to clear the water short of the green, so he decides instead to pitch it down the fairway. That's the easier way to make par – he'll no longer have to pull off the miracle shot.

• On the green: The wedge shot in from 80 yards is well-played, and Tiger has a 4-footer to save par. He makes it and moves on.

TIGER ON THE DAY: Even (-2 for the tournament)

• • •

No. 3, Par 3, 177 yards

As Tiger steps to the third tee, the wind is howling behind him and blowing from left to right.

• Off the tee: A front hole location makes it seem unlikely he'll put it close, and he sails his ball right over the top of the flag. He'll have about 35 feet for birdie.

• On the green: Tiger misses the putt by just a few inches but it's a good lag in this wind. Tap-in par.

TIGER ON THE DAY: Even (-2 for the tournament)

• • •

No. 2, Par 5, 532 yards

• Off the tee: Tiger hits an ugly low pull that finds the left rough. He didn't even manage to get the ball higher than the tops of the trees. Seems unlikely he'll be able to reach the green from here.

• Approach shot: Tiger takes a short iron and lays up. He remains 120 yards from the hole, but that shot is a little lacking also. He pushes it to the right edge of the green.

• On the green: The 25-footer for birdie doesn't go in, but the tap-in for par does. Tiger still isn't capitalizing on the par 5s the way he needs to if he expects to score.

TIGER ON THE DAY: Even (-2 for the tournament)

• • •

No. 1, Par 4, 392 yards

Tiger hits the first tee in a white shirt and light green slacks. It's blowing considerably at Sawgrass, at least 15 mph and steady. Expect the greens to bake today, and turn pretty slick.

• Off the tee: Tiger uses a fairway wood to blast it down the left side. He has 152 yards left to the green, but will have a good angle to the green from here.

• Approach shot: Tiger hits a nice-looking second shot but it sails over the green. He could have a tricky shot left from that spot. There certainly won't be much green to work with.

• On the green: Tiger pulls a fairway wood – he had little choice from that closely mown area – and bumps it to 2 feet.

TIGER ON THE DAY: Even (-2 for the tournament)

• • •

SECOND-ROUND COVERAGE

Bradley, Simpson face turbulent rounds

While Matt Kuchar's solid play put him in a share of the lead at The Players, playing competitors Keegan Bradley and Webb Simpson were swirling storms around Kuchar’s serenity. Story.

• • •

Notes: Harman makes cut, Stricker doesn’t

Players Championship notebook: Brian Harman will be playing the weekend at The Players, while a familiar weekend warrior, Steve Stricker, will not. Story.

• • •

McIlroy is 0-for-3 in Players cuts made

Rory McIlroy, a victim of TPC Sawgrass’ visual trickery, misses his first cut in more than a year at the Players Championship. Story.

• • •

Curtis, 5 under at Players, evades media attention

At 5 under, Ben Curtis may be in contention at The Players, but he failed to garner the media attention of personalities like Rory McIlroy. That’s okay with Curtis, who’s content focusing on the numbers. Story.

• • •

FIRST-ROUND COVERAGE

Big-name players fail to reach top of leaderboard

The Players Championship has one of the year’s best fields, but that fact wasn't apparent looking at today's leaderboard. Story.

• • •

A rested Adam Scott fires opening 68

Adam Scott, proving that his sparse tournament schedule is working for him, shot what appeared to be an effortless 4-under 68 to get into a share of sixth in the opening round of The Players Championship. Story.

• • •

Simon Dyson withdraws from Players Championship

Simon Dyson joins D.A. Points, Paul Casey, Hunter Haas and Angel Cabrera, as the Englishman withdrew due to a “sharp, shooting pain” from his hip all the way down the leg. Story.

• • •

Notebook: Gary Woodland retuns to action at Players Championship

Players Championship notes: Gary Woodland returns to action after an injury at the Masters, while Thursday morning's featured pairing didn't provide the fireworks fans were expecting. Notebook.

• • •

Brian Harman squeezes into Players Championship field

When D.A. Points withdrew due to back spasms, first alternate Brian Harman was let into the field. Harman made the most of it, shooting a 1-over 73 on Thursday. Story.

• • •

Blake Adams fires 6-under 66, one shot off Players Championship lead

Blake Adams contending at the Players Championship would be surprising because physically, he is a mess. He shot 6-under 66 Thursday. Story.

• • •

Tiger Woods fires a 2-over 74 in first round of Players Championship

Coming off a missed cut, Tiger Woods still was out of sorts Thursday at The Players. He shot 74 and will need a good round Friday to avoid missing consecutive cuts for the first time as a pro. Story.

• • •

PREVIEW COVERAGE

Augusta National's power forces Tim Finchem to fold

Tim Finchem said that the PGA Tour will not remove the Masters as a tournament on its schedule despite Augusta's all-male membership. And, while Jeff Rude doesn't like it, he understands it. Story.

• • •

Luke Donald a favorite among fantasy panel

Fantasy Tip Sheet: In the back-and-forth world of the World Golf Rankings, at least two of our panelists think that Luke Donald will get back to No. 1 with a win at TPC Sawgrass this weekend. Fantasy tips.

• • •

Tiger Woods hopes to stick around for the weekend

Tiger Woods is about the only person not in a panic about his game. But these remain curious times for the guy trying to show he can still dominate golf as he once did. Story.

• • •

Players Championship tee times and pairings

Check out the first- and second-round tee times and pairings at the Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass. Tee times.

• • •

First-timers will have hands fulls with subtle Sawgrass

Sang-Moon Bae, Bud Cauley and David Mathis are three of 16 first-time participants at the Players Championship, and each will be challenged by TPC Sawgrass' subtle design. Story.

• • •

Mark Brooks gets another shot at a TPC Sawgrass loop

Thirty years later, Mark Brooks finds himself back on the bag, this time as the caddie for J.J. Henry at The Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass. Story.

• • •

Gary Player receives PGA Tour's Lifetime Achievement Award

Gary Player has traveled to all corners of the world and it led him to the Tour's Lifetime Achievement Award. Story.

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