Tiger Woods’ third round of the Quicken Loans National began like so many of his third rounds have this season, with an early birdie run that sent those one-of-a-kind roars echoing throughout the course. Unfortunately, it ended like many of those rounds have as well, with Woods letting a few shots get away down the stretch.
But he was still able to move forward, carding a two-under 68 to get to seven-under 203, putting him six shots off the lead of Abraham Ancer, who fired a tournament course-record 62. He made six birdies on the day, five of them coming on the front, but four bogeys, two of them coming at the 13th and the 18th holes, caused Woods to walk off the final green with a bad taste in his mouth.
“One word [to describe it] would be frustrating,” said Woods. “To make four bogeys like that, I couldn’t afford to do that. I figured I had to get to at least 10 [under] by the end of the day, and making four bogeys definitely hurts.”
Even after opening the round with a bogey at the first, Woods got all the way to eight under overall with four straight birdies beginning at the fourth hole. Then he made what looked like a momentum-killing bogey at No. 8, but got it right back with a birdie at the par-3 ninth, giving him a front-nine 32 to get within two of the lead.
“I turned it around, because I bogeyed the first, caught a flyer there at one, and then made a 15-footer for par at three and basically that turned everything around,” he said. “And then I went on the run after that.”
Woods couldn’t keep it going, playing his next six holes in one over before finally making another birdie after hitting his approach to five feet at the 16th hole. But he gave that back at the 18th after hitting his drive in the right rough for the third straight day, and then failing to get up and down from a green side bunker.
Still, Woods can take some positives from Saturday, like another improved round with the putter. At the end of the first round he ranked well outside the top 90 in both putts per green in regulation and strokes-gained/putting. Through three rounds, he now ranks 27th and 26th, respectively.
“Everything kind of started at Quail Hollow,” he said. “Those greens were so slow and I didn’t putt well at all. After that I just got into some bad habits and had to try and grind myself out of it and I think I have. I think I’ve gotten to where this entire week I’ve started the ball on line again, and I’m starting to see it. Whether they go in or not, that’s great. But I’m starting to see it again.”
As we saw with Bubba Watson last week, Woods is still in the tournament, six shots off of Ancer’s lead and needing to go as low as possible on Sunday. With more sweltering temperatures on the way, Woods is hoping the course plays as challenging as it can so he can give himself a chance.
“If they put a lot of water on it to try and protect it so they don’t lose the golf course, everybody’s going to make birdies. But if they leave it a little on the testy side and I shoot a good round, I might have a chance.”