August 02, 2014

Tiger turns in uneven third-round performance

Errant drives and missed opportunities on the greens cost Tiger Woods on Saturday during Round 3 of the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club in Akron, Ohio.

An eight-time winner of the event, Woods shot a 2-over 72 and has a 54-hole score of 1-over 211. Sergio Garcia holds a three-shot lead after three rounds of play.

Tiger found 6 of 14 fairways off the tee, hitting only 2 of 9 with his driver. As a result, he was often scrambling out of the trees or from thick rough, limiting his scoring chances by reaching only seven greens in regulation.

While Woods finished with 26 putts, his low total of the week, he failed to convert several putts from short range. Tiger made only three putts outside of five feet.

“I missed a lot of opportunities out there,” he said. “I did not putt well again. I couldn’t get comfortable with my setup.”

Switching to an old, lighter driver this week that he used last year when he won a PGA Tour-best five times, Woods said he found something late in the round and bombed one 360 yards down the middle of the fairway at the par-4 18th. He hit a beautiful second shot seven feet from the cup but missed the putt.

“Unfortunately, too little, too late,” Tiger said. “But if I continue doing what I was doing coming into today, I’ll be just fine.”

An early starter with Jimmy Walker and Bubba Watson, Woods carded one birdie, one bogey and a double-bogey.

 Tiger opened with four straight pars, then posted his lone birdie at the 187-yard, par-3 fifth, where he flagged a 7-iron just inside five feet. It marked his third consecutive birdie on the hole.

The positive momentum evaporated quickly. At the par-4 sixth, Tiger blocked his drive way right into the woods and hit a tree with his second shot, forcing the ball to drop straight down. Woods then punched out short of the fairway, chipped to six feet and missed the bogey putt.

Woods nearly holed out his bunker shot at the 209-yard, par-3 seventh, but was left with a tap-in par. He parred the eighth and ninth holes to make the turn in 1-over 36.

On the back nine, Tiger made eight pars and a bogey. He hit a nice tee shot about eight feet from the pin at the par-3 12th but couldn’t capitalize. Another poor drive doomed him at the par-4 13th, which ended with Woods eventually two-putting from about 13 feet.

While Tiger’s iron play has looked stellar at times, the rest of his game hasn’t been as sharp, something he will try and improve on Sunday. Woods has only played nine competitive rounds since undergoing back surgery on March 31.

“I just need more reps,” Tiger said. “I continue to stay at it because I’m actually getting better. The more rounds I play, I’m actually getting my feel back.”

Woods starts Sunday at 10:45 a.m. ET on the first tee with Bubba Watson.