SAN MARTIN, Calif. (AP) — Tiger Woods put together back-to-back rounds in the 60s for the first time since the start of the season. It wasn’t enough Saturday at the Frys.com Open, and Woods knew it.
After making a mess of the par 3s, Woods had to settle for a 3-under 68 that put him in the middle of the pack.
Woods was the first to tee off – on the back nine – and while two straight birdies on Nos. 1 and 2 pulled him within three shots, the leaders were in the group ahead of him and just getting started.
It was too beautiful of a day at CordeValle, with bright sunshine and barely a breeze. The pins were accessible. Everyone was making birdies. Woods didn’t make enough.
“The golf course could have been had today,” Woods said. “Guys can take it deep out there.”
In his first PGA Tour event in seven weeks – and his last official PGA Tour event of the year – Woods was still wading in water. After two early birdies in his round, he had a chip from just off the green at No. 16 lip out of the cup, then didn’t come close to driving the green on the par-4 17th even though it required a straight tee shot to a pin in the middle of the putting surface.
He was at 4-under 209, in a tie for 38th and nine shots behind going into the final round.
Woods at least broke 70 in back-to-back rounds for the first time since his 69-69 start at Torrey Pines in his first tournament of the year. He finished poorly that week and tied for 44th.
Woods missed nearly four months with left leg injuries he suffered at the Masters, and said he didn’t have enough time to practice when he returned to play poorly in two events. He failed to qualify for the FedEx Cup playoffs, giving him a nearly two-month break.
“I was very close to really putting it together on the front nine – birdie 17 and 18, and all of a sudden, I’m 5 under,” Woods said.
He didn’t, and he wasn’t.
His tee shot on the 17th, which played only 294 yards over a pond, was pulled badly to the left in deep grass around a bunker, and Woods chopped it out across the green. He hit two good shots on the 18th, only to miss an 8-foot birdie putt.
“It’s getting better,” Woods said. “I’m improving day by day, which is good. Obviously, tomorrow I need to improve a lot and make the putts and post a really low one tomorrow.”