June 02, 2018

Tiger Heading Into Sunday Tied For 7th

DUBLIN, Ohio – For the third time in nine starts this season, Tiger Woods has put himself in position to win.

He followed up Friday’s 5-under-par 67 with a 68 on Saturday in the Memorial Tournament at hot and muggy Muirfield Village Golf Club.

Woods has a 54-hole total of 9-under 207 and is tied for seventh, five strokes behind leader Bryson DeChambeau.

“I’m in a position where if I shoot another good round like I had the last two days, I’ve got a chance,” said Woods, a five-time winner of the event.

Woods has recorded four top 12s this year, paced by a tie for second at the Valspar Championship.

Idle since The Players Championship last month, Woods started slowly at Muirfield, falling 4-over after seven holes on Thursday. At that point, he was more concerned about the cut not contending for his 80th PGA Tour title.

But Woods turned things around. He played the last 11 holes in 4-under and is a combined 13-under in his last 47 holes.

And it could be better. Much better, in fact, if his putter had been more cooperative.

Woods missed several makeable putts on Friday and more on Saturday, twice from four feet.

“I am definitely not taking advantage of the way I’m hitting it,” he said. “That’s (68) probably the highest score I could have shot. I could have easily shot 62 or 63 yesterday and 63 or 64 without doing much today.”

The statistics back him up. Taking advantage of rain-softened fairways and greens, Woods hit 12 of 14 fairways and 15 of 18 greens Saturday. He was masterful from tee to green, carding three birdies and an eagle.

“I played really, really well,” said Woods. “I played beautifully, actually. Had total control of what I was doing out there and just didn’t finish it off.”

Paired with Patrick Reed, Woods fired a 5-under 31 on the front nine to soar up the leader board. He parred the first four holes, then went eagle-birdie-birdie-par-birdie.

Needless to say, the galleries were energized.

The last time Woods played five consecutive holes in 5-under was in the second round of the 2013 Farmers Insurance Open, which he won.

Woods squandered a couple birdie chances early on the back side, lipping out a three-foot birdie putt to tie for the lead at the par-4 14th. But he rebounded quickly, burying a 20-footer at the par-5 15th to earn a share of the top spot at 11-under.

Woods faltered on the greens coming in, three-putting at 16 and 18. He finished with 31 for the round.

“The toe of the putter was moving nicely,” he said. “I hit a lot of good putts today and I just didn’t do it at the end.”

In 15 previous starts at the Memorial, Woods’ third-round scoring average was 71.87, the highest of any round.

As he did Friday, Woods went to the practice green after his round. He putted until almost dark Friday and worked on his mechanics and speed.

“It’s close,” said Reed. “He missed a lot of short putts. He made a couple good ones. Today, easily for him could have been 7 or 8-under par without blinking.”

Through three rounds, Woods ranks first in: strokes gained tee-to-green (+12.846); second in strokes gained: approach-to-the-green (+8.977); second in strokes gained: around-the-green (+4.733); and 72nd in strokes gained: putting (-5.667).

For the second day in a row, he crushed the par-5s (4-under) and has toured them in 9-under the last two rounds.

“I’m not that far back,” Woods said. “I wish I could have stayed up there at 11-under.”

With bad weather in the forecast, tee times for Sunday’s final round were moved up. Woods starts at 9:10 a.m. ET – 20 minutes ahead of the final group – and is paired with Whee Kim and J.B. Holmes.

Asked if he is ready to win again, Woods stated the obvious. His last PGA Tour victory came at the 2013 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.

“Well, I was at 11-under and I wasted a bunch of shots the last two days,” he said. “So you can do the math.”