July 19, 2014

Tiger falters late in rainy conditions at Royal Liverpool

Still shaking the rust off his game, Tiger Woods had it going for 10 holes on a rainy Saturday in the third round of the 143rd Open Championship at Royal Liverpool Golf Club in Hoylake, England.

Tiger was 3-under par, but couldn’t sustain it.

Two big numbers doomed his round as he settled for a 1-over 73. As a result, the 14-time major champion and three-time Open winner has a 54-hole score of 3-over 219 and is tied for 58th, 19 strokes behind leader Rory McIlroy.

“Made a lot of mistakes,” Woods said. “I’ve made two doubles and two triples. But on top of that, I missed a lot of shots for opportunities for birdies and, consequently, I’m 3-over par.”

An early back-nine starter with Rhein Gibson and Jordan Spieth, Tiger attracted another large gallery and started strong with birdies at the par-5 10th and par-4 11th holes. He followed with three straight pars, but dropped a shot at the par-3 15th. Woods came right back with a birdie at the par-5 16th, then parred Nos. 17 and 18 to make the turn in 2-under 35.

Tiger moved to 3-under with a short birdie putt at the par-4 first, a hole he struggled with over the first two rounds, but he stumbled once again at No. 2, the second-toughest hole on the course. Woods drove into a pot bunker, wedged his second shot back into play, spun his third shot off the front of the green, putted four feet from the cup and missed the putt for a double-bogey.

Tiger steadied with four-consecutive pars, but he encountered more trouble at the par-4 seventh. Woods pushed his tee shot right and it landed in a thick gorse bush. Although his search party found several balls, none were his, forcing him to take a lost ball and walk back to the tee to re-hit. Woods ultimately produced a triple-bogey to go from 1-under on the day to 2-over.

Tiger parred the eighth hole, then finished in style at the par-3 ninth, where he knocked his tee shot 15-feet from the cup and made the birdie putt.

While Woods has now played five competitive rounds since undergoing back surgery on March 31, he’s starting to feel more comfortable on the golf course.

“(But) you can’t run up high scores like that and expect to contend, especially when the conditions are this benign,” he said. “Most of the scores are 3-under or better. I certainly didn’t do that.”

Tiger begins final-round play Sunday at 4:45 a.m. ET with Jason Dufner.