TPC Sawgrass magnifies mistakes and exposes with alarming clarity any weakness a player has.
Tiger Woods knows this all too well, counting just two of his 79 PGA Tour titles here in The Players Championship. If your form is just a hair off, your scorecard becomes marred. One yard left or long or short could be the difference between a birdie and a double-bogey.
Woods caught some bad breaks Saturday in the sun-drenched third round of the Tour’s flagship event. Combined with Woods’ present state of pulling irons as his new swing is still a work in progress, the former world No. 1 now ranked No. 125, shot a 3-over-par 75 to drop from the edge of contention.
And for the first time in his professional career which began in 1996, Woods made double-bogeys on two par-5s in the same round. That’s more than 300 starts.
In a rare refusal, Woods, truly disappointed throughout his 18 holes, did not talk to the media after his round. There wasn’t much to say, really, as Woods was off with his short game, mid-range game and long game.
His playing partner, Graham DeLaet, said he enjoyed being paired with Woods for the first time. He said other than the two doubles, Woods played well and mentioned he shot 1 under on his back nine after a 40 on the front.
“It’s just hard to score when you have doubles,” DeLaet said.
Any chance Woods had of making a run at the leaders vanished on the second hole. Starting his round eight shots behind pace-setter Kevin Na, Woods made par on the first and had 3-wood in his hand for his tee shot on the par-5.
His shot, however, flew directly into a thick limb of a tall tree to the left of the fairway, hitting it with such force that the ball ended up on the right side of the fairway. From there he hit his second shot into thick rough, his third into a bunker 30 yards short of the green, his fourth over the green.
After finally reaching the green with his fifth, he walked off with a 7 after two putts. While he erased a bogey at the fifth with a birdie at the seventh, Woods added another double-bogey 7 on the par-5 ninth when he needed three flop shots from 20 yards short of the green to reach the putting surface.
Woods didn’t have another blemish on his card after the ninth. His lone birdie on the back came at the par-5 11th, where he got up-and-down from a greenside bunker.
His 75 dropped him to 3 over for the tournament.
Woods did not go to the range following his round. He has Sunday’s final round to continue working on his game. After this week, he’ll play next in The Memorial at Muirfield Village in Dublin, Ohio, in three weeks. Then he’ll head to Chambers Bay in Washington two weeks later for the U.S. Open.
SOURCE: USA Today Sports – Steve DiMeglio