NEWTON SQUARE, Pa. –Tiger Woods was dressed for Ryder Cup weather conditions, donning a black sweater vest with dark gray pants at Aronimink golf club. Soon the colors will change to red, white and blue, and there’s no doubt Woods’ tee to green game is ready for Paris.
His best shot on a wet, chilly afternoon for Round 3 of the BMW Championship came at the 242-yard par 3 eighth.
There was a little right to left wind with a bit of hurt and he had a perfect 4 iron number.
The ball jumped off his club on a strong line and settled 10 feet from the cup. It was 40 feet closer than either playing partner. If you’ve watched Woods play much golf lately, you can guess what happened next. He missed the putt, tapped in for par and trudged on.
That’s been the biggest issue for Woods throughout the FedEx Cup Playoffs, and it’s the only thing that needs correcting ahead of the matches in Paris.
The par-3 14th hole isn’t a fun one either at 221 yards. Woods hit his 5 iron to nine feet there and, lo and behold, it went in the cup.
“I joked to him, I need to get you on a longer golf course,” caddie Joe LaCava said. “You’re hitting your 5 irons and 4 irons tight.”
That was one of four birdies on the day as Woods shot 4-under 66, moving to 12 under on the week. Another bogey free round, his third of the playoffs, and another frustrating putting performance.
Woods teed off at 1 p.m. ET and got exactly the start he needed with birdies at one and two, moving just three shots off the lead.
It was 4:37 p.m. the next time he saw a birdie putt drop, at 14, and by that time he was way off pace.
Woods enters the final round five shots back of leader Justin Rose and probably needs another 62 to have a chance. He wasn’t that far off from something close to it on Saturday. Some of the misses are so close that Woods thought about walking them in five or six times.
“Maybe I should have,” Wood said. “Jinx it to actually go in the hole.”
This is pretty much how things went all week in Boston, where scores weren’t quite this low, but Woods’ demeanor seems different. He doesn’t look as frustrated with himself after the misses.
He’s so used to seeing those must-have birdies go in, but LaCava has been urging him to stay patient. Woods said he was “getting a little hot” early in the round and LaCava stayed in his ear.
“I preach that all the time to him,” LaCava said. “I’m not saying that’s the reason, but one of these times things are gonna turn around and the putts are gonna start to go in. … Maybe he’s listening to that, I don’t know.”
The end of a three-week east coast swing is in sight, with just one round to go, though getting it done Sunday may be a challenge due to heavy rains projected throughout the day. Woods is scheduled to tee off at 8:10 a.m. with Webb Simpson and Scott Piercy. Once it’s done he’ll have a week off and more time to sort out his putting issues.
Big picture, Woods is now one more solid round away from a spot in the Tour Championship at East Lake. He’s already on the Ryder Cup team, which has to be uplifting even after another day like Saturday.
If he starts dropping putts again in Atlanta, it could signal some deflating days ahead for his European opponents.