ST. LOUIS – Tiger Woods knew the shot used to be just right. He struck it natural from 240 yards at the 17th hollow and began strutting down the green, gazing the ball land 20 toes from the pin — one just right putt clear of an eagle that will have vaulted him into 2d position.
And Woods knew the putt used to be dangerous. He muscled it three toes previous the opening, then pulled the comebacker off line and, after settling for a disappointing par, he in brief grabbed the putter with each arms, as though to bend it, ahead of deciding best of it.
That par used to be essentially the most disappointing of the 10 immediately Woods made to complete his 3rd spherical Saturday on the PGA Championship. He shot Four-under 66 to achieve eight below. That used to be 4 again of chief Brooks Koepka — smartly inside of hanging vary, however inferior to it will’ve been.
“May’ve been slightly nearer,” Woods stated. “However I have were given a shot going into the next day to come.”
For the 3rd immediately day on the wide-open, squishy Bellerive Nation Membership, Woods hit the ball smartly from tee to inexperienced — he hit 15 vegetables in legislation — and seemed each bit the contender he used to be 3 weeks in the past on the British Open, the place the cheers appeared louder and extra heartfelt than they might been previously.
It is been a lot the similar this week in St. Louis.
“Listening to the group, and Tiger’s acting nice, it used to be like turning again the arms of the clock,” stated Stewart Cink, who performed with Woods and in addition shot Four below to additionally end 4 out of the lead.
However Tiger’s putter? It introduced extra moans than cheers to the fanatics, and extra frustration than pleasure to Woods.
He has no longer made a putt of longer than 17 toes over 3 days, and has handiest made 5 putts of greater than 10 toes all week. As Saturday’s spherical wore on, he used to be persistently arising quick because the already comfortable vegetables were given even slower; he had six birdie tries of 20 toes or much less over the again 9 and did not make one.
“The vegetables had been getting fuzzy, they are getting sluggish, and I did not hit the putts relatively exhausting sufficient,” Woods stated. “And I made certain I did on 17. And I blew it by way of about 4 toes after which pulled the following one.”
“The vegetables had been getting fuzzy, they are getting sluggish, and I did not hit the putts relatively exhausting sufficient. And I made certain I did on 17. And I blew it by way of about 4 toes after which pulled the following one.”
The misses on 17, mixed with a overlooked birdie take a look at from 15 toes underneath the opening on 18, took away the tantalizing prospect of Woods enjoying within the ultimate crew in a big for the primary time since 2009 (When he misplaced to Y.E. Yang on the PGA.)
Nevertheless it doesn’t suggest he may not have a possibility to catch Koepka, who were given to 13 below ahead of he confirmed glimpses of a fight — making back-to-back bogeys on 14 and 15 to come back again to the sector. Koepka closed with a two-shot lead over Adam Scott, with 3 extra gamers at nine below setting apart Koepka from Woods.
“The golfing path is enjoying comfortable, it is gettable, it’s a must to make birdies,” Woods stated.
He did simply that over the primary 9 holes, making 5 birdies at the entrance 9 on learn how to a 31 that drew him inside of two of the lead.
What adopted used to be every other bankruptcy in a constant pattern: Woods has performed the entrance 9 in 10-under par this week, however has performed the again at 2 over.
This yr? He ranks 120th in back-nine scoring reasonable at the PGA Excursion, and is tied for 10th over the entrance 9.
On the British Open, he shot 34 over the entrance 9 within the ultimate spherical to in brief get into the lead. He went double bogey-bogey on 11 and 12 to fall out of the lead and completed tied for 6th.
However his revel in at the again 9 at Bellerive used to be other, partly as a result of storms that took him off the path in the course of his 2d spherical Friday and taken him again for a 7 a.m. restart Saturday. In all, the 42-year-old Woods put his surgically repaired again thru 29 holes over 10 hours in sizzling, sticky climate. He no longer handiest modified shirts this time, he modified colours — from a gray-and-white striped design early within the spherical to royal blue from the 5th hollow on.
“It isn’t essentially the bodily, it is mentally grinding that arduous for 29 holes on this warmth,” he stated. “It used to be an extended day.”
However no longer a misplaced day.
After completing tied for 48th after the primary spherical, then tied for 19th after the second one, he’s tied for 6th going into the remaining.
Hitting the ball smartly and within the hunt.
Now, if he can handiest get the putter to cooperate.