PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – The tune probably sounds a little familiar.
The notes might be in a different octave, but the melody was unmistakable.
Tiger Woods stood before a throng after his third round at the Players Championship and riffed away like a classic-rock guitarist playing a familiar tune.
Yet again on Saturday, he hit the ball well, but couldn't get the ball in the hole with nearly the same effectiveness.
“They are certainly not in the same category,” he said. “I played well today and didn't get anything out of that round. It was probably the most solid I've hit the golf ball all year actually.
“Even though I hit a couple off-line, but they were just hit dead*flush. I just got nothing out of the round.”
In fact, despite setting a target score of 67 or 68, he didn't move a lick up the leaderboard and shot an even-par 72 and fell 10 strokes off the lead as the final groups toured the back nine at TPC Sawgrass.
This is not a joke about the pond-saturated Sawgrass course, per se, but Woods did too much treading of water while others, like Rickie Fowler, were making big moved from back in the pack. Woods started with six straight pars, then missed a 30-inch putt for par on the seventh and was 2 over for the day through 10 holes.
As much as anything, his putter left him down for the umpteenth time. For the second day in a row, Woods hit either the green or putted from the fringe on 15 of 18 greens on a course that demands precision on approach shots, but unlike in his second-round 68, he didn't capitalize.
Woods used 33 putts and was ranked T54 in the field in putting after he signed his card.
“Well, misread two of them, which is fine,” he said. “Then I hit two other just bad putts. But other than that, it was just tough getting the ball close. I had a hard time. Some of the guys, I'm sure, are doing a better job than I did today. But I was having a hard time getting it close.”
While Fowler shot 66 for the low score of the day among the early finishers, Woods never remotely got that type of momentum started on the difficult
“The course was fair, very fair,” Woods said. “It was a great test.”
So this one was pilot error all the way.
“The golf course, as I said earlier in the week, it's about ball*striking,” he said. “You have to hit the ball well that particular week. You can't fake it around here.”
After finishing T40 at the Masters and missing the cut last week, Woods can't seem to get all 14 clubs in his bag to cooperate at the same time.