Tiger Woods began his third round at the Memorial Tournament today in a comfortable, if unremarkable, tie for 43rd position. He ended it by signing for a seven-over-par 79 to leave himself a mere three shots shy of a place at the tail-end of the 73-man field.
Already a genuinely bad round by PGA Tour standards, it looks historically so when considered against Woods’ own. In fact, his opening nine (he began his round on the 10th) was the worst, in numerical terms, of his entire career!
Suddenly, Merion’s not looking like such a sure thing.
Woods declined media requests after he signed his scorecard, but he did give a few quotes to a PGA Tour official. (To be fair, Tiger does more media than any other player out here, so he deserves a pass.)
“It was a rough day,” he said. “It was tough out there from beginning to end.”
Ugh, I totally feel your pain, Tiger. It was brutal out there today. Really, though, that made me feel a bit better about the state of my game. Golf is really hard. (Duh!) Even the best in the world have terrible days and this is their job. (Keep telling myself that.)
Tiger had some trouble on the 18th, his nine hole, where he carded a triple-bogey 7 on the par-4. His approach shot hit the front of the green and then spun back off. His chip did the same and then his second went four-feet past the hole and he went on to three-putt. Doesn’t sound too different than your game, right? Well, except most of us don’t spin the ball as much as Tiger.
“A lot of it was getting caught on the wrong side of the hole on the wrong time,” said Jim Furyk, who was paired with Tiger and shot three-under 69. “He didn’t hit that many bad golf shots, just didn’t get away with any of them, if that makes sense.”
Yes, yes, that does.
“It’s just one of those things where I’m sure I’m not the only one who struggled out there,” said Tiger. “The conditions were tough, when I missed it cost me. I caught the wrong gusts at the wrong time, made a couple bad swings and all in all it just went the wrong way.”
Meanwhile, JJ Henry, who played in the group ahead of Tiger, made the turn with an impressive four-under 32, besting Woods by 12 strokes. When that was brought to Henry’s attention, he shrugged and laughed.
“He’s the best player in the world,” said Henry, who shot a stellar four-under 68. “I’m just trying to make a living out here.”
Woods was able to turn it around on the second nine, birdieing the first two holes.
“It was pretty amazing,” said Furyk, referring to Tiger. “He came out, after making 7 on 18, high score on the back nine. He came back and ripped it right down the middle on 1. Makes birdie. Does the same thing on 2. Didn’t hit a very good putt on 3 or misread the putt, one of the two, but could have birdied the first three. He went from the 44 to almost birdieing the first three holes on the front. He looked a lot more solid and in control on the front nine.”
Well, not that this makes it any better, but Tiger didn’t even have the highest score in the threesome! — Zach Johnson shot 81.
The last and only time Tiger failed to break 80 was in the third round of the 2002 Open Championship at Muirfield (where it returns this summer) when he shot 81.
“He wasn’t going to tell you anything that you didn’t already see because we had a full camera crew with us the entire 18 holes,” said Furyk when asked about Tiger bypassing the media. “Every shot he hit was taped and shown somewhere, I’m sure. It’s so rare for a guy that’s not playing well. If I go out and shoot 79 off the back nine on Saturday, no one sees a shot.”
That sums it up pretty well, but I guess it’s part of the territory when you’ve won 14 majors.
(Conor Nagle contributed to this post)