After a dismal putting performance on Friday afternoon at The Northern Trust, Tiger Woods marched to the putting green for some post-round work.
But that did little to change his fortunes on Saturday morning in Paramus, N.J.
Woods, playing alongside Ian Poulter in the third group off, struggled on the greens at Ridgewood Country Club again, as he gave himself plenty of birdie looks but converted only a few. Yet he still shot a bogey-free three-under 68, shaving three strokes off his even-par 71 he carded in the first two rounds. It’s Woods first bogeyless round of the season.
“I hit it good today,” Woods said. “Just felt like I controlled it, shaped it all different ways. I just didn’t hole a lot.”
He started the day 10 behind 36-hole co-leaders Brooks Koepka and Jamie Lovemark and he’ll begin Sunday 13 behind 54-hole leader Bryson DeChambeau (16 under), who shot 63 on Saturday. Woods is T49.
One day after hitting 16 of 18 greens in regulation, Woods hit 13 of 18 on Saturday (and nine fairways). But at the time he finished he ranked third-to-last in the field in Strokes Gained putting, losing nearly four strokes to the field (-3.615) per round.
“I’m just not seeing my [putting] lines,” said Woods, who had 28 putts on Saturday, seven less than his second round. “It’s just one of those things where I’m struggling seeing the lines. The pace has been OK, not great, but my feel is just a little bit off. Whether I’m seeing high lines or low lines, they are just not quite dialed in yet.”
Woods hit seven of nine greens on the front side but only made one birdie. His first good look came on the 3rd, but he missed an eight-footer. His first birdie came on the par-3 6th, when he stuffed it to 11 1/2 feet from 196 yards and converted. That got him to one under for the tournament, but he couldn’t capitalize on the momentum. He missed birdie putts of 12, 14 and 12 feet, respectively, on Nos. 7-9 to make the turn in one-under 34.
“Today is one of those days where I could have had a few more [birdies] out there,” Woods said. “As soft as it got, you’ve got to try to make birdies and I just didn’t do it.”
After getting up and down for par on 10 and 11, Woods drove it into the green-side bunker on the short par-4 12th, but he blasted out and missed a four-foot birdie try. He followed that by missing an 11-footer for birdie on the par-5 13th.
He finally cashed in on the back nine when he reached the 14th. His drive found the fairway, and his iron from 160 left 16 1/2 feet for birdie, which he rolled in.
But again Woods couldn’t keep it going. On the next hole, the par-3 15th, he stuck his tee shot to nine feet, but again couldn’t drop the putt.
After a two-putt par on 16 and a scrambling par on the par-5 17th, Woods knocked in a six-footer for birdie on 18. No matter what Woods shoots on Sunday he’s already qualified and committed to the second stage of the FedEx Cup Playoffs, next week’s Dell Technologies Championship at TPC Boston.
“I think if I can get to double digits [under par on Sunday], it would be nice,” he said. “I think that would be a nice way to end it. Most of these guys are going to go really low, and hopefully I can shoot well, one that will get me into double digits tomorrow and give me some nice momentum going into next week.”