Tiger Woods keeps climbing Memorial leaderboard despite heavy putter

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Tiger Woods keeps climbing Memorial leaderboard despite heavy putter

PGA Tour

Tiger Woods keeps climbing Memorial leaderboard despite heavy putter

DUBLIN, Ohio – As his 14-foot birdie putt curled right and rolled toward the hole at the par-5 15th hole Saturday at Muirfield Village, Tiger Woods had his fist locked and loaded. As the ball dropped, Woods pumped it powerfully through the air, seemingly sending a shock wave through the surrounding crowd watching along in the amphitheater-like setting.

The atmosphere at Jack’s Place was electric, and in that moment, as scoreboard operators reached for a pair of red-1s to place next to Woods’ name, Woods was tied for the lead at the Memorial Tournament.

For these fans, all was right in the golf world.

Woods was again striking it beautifully, showing improvement with the putter and with a few holes left, there was a sense that Woods could enter Sunday in one of the final few groups.

“Had total control of what I was doing out there,” Woods said.

For the second straight day, though, he just couldn’t finish it off. And again, it was a heavy flatstick weighing down Woods’ climb up the leaderboard.

Woods was 5 under at the turn and reached 11 under after his birdie at No. 15. But a 1-over back nine, capped by a shocking miss from inside 4 feet at the par-4 18th, left Woods with a 4-under 68. At 9 under overall, he will now await the leading score after 54 holes and hope he’s not too far back.

“Shooting in the low 60s could have been pretty easy if I had just had putted normally,” Woods said.

A day after finishing 119th out of 120 players in strokes gained-putting, Woods seemed to have figured things out on the greens early in Round 3. He made a 13-footer for eagle at the par-5 fifth and followed it with a 10-foot birdie make at the par-4 sixth and a nice two-putt birdie from 54 feet at the par-5 seventh. There were no glaring misses, either.

With Woods hitting all seven fairways and his last eight greens on the front nine, the back nine looked primed to host a vintage Woods charge into the lead. And while those following Woods at Muirfield Village got a brief taste of it, they left Saturday feeling somewhat robbed.

Woods felt the same way on the greens. He showcased some course knowledge by using the slope at the par-4 13th to give himself a 4-foot look at birdie, but missed. At the par-3 16th, he hit a poor lag from 46 feet that left him a slick downhill par save from 7 feet, which he missed.

And then there was the miss at the last, which put a major damper on another incredible ballstriking day.

“The scary thing is everyone knows Tiger for being such a good putter, and he hasn’t really shown that today or this week,” said Woods’ playing competitor, Patrick Reed, who shot 1-over 73. “He hasn’t putted well and he’s still being able to shoot the numbers he is with how well he’s hitting the golf ball.

“… Today easily for him could’ve been a 7-, 8-under par round without blinking.”

For the week, Woods is gaining almost nine shots in his approaches to the green, an astronomical number. Conversely, he’s losing more than five-and-a-half shots on the greens.

“I am definitely not taking advantage of how well I’m hitting it,” Woods said.

However, if Woods can somehow figure out the putter on Sunday, he could take home his sixth trophy from Jack’s Tournament.

Talk about a shock wave to the golf world.

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