WINDERMERE, Fla. –- Tiger Woods battled nausea in addition to his new, hard-to-watch chipping problems but still shot a 3-under-par 69 in the third round of the Hero World Challenge at Isleworth on Saturday.
Fighting flu-like symptoms, Woods threw up before and during his round with Billy Horschel, but refused to quit on the unofficial, 18-player tournament that benefits his foundation. Woods was barely able to speak as he met the media for five minutes after his round.
“I’ve been throwing up for hours,” he said in a whisper. “I wasn’t in pain, just a little under the weather. Yesterday’s fever was higher, but today — the vomiting before and during the round — I didn’t have that issue yesterday. I’m on antibiotics. I’m just waiting for it to kick in.”
Woods is in last place, but continues to see hopeful signs in his first tournament under new swing coach Chris Como, and his first competitive action since he shot 74-74 to miss the cut at the PGA Championship in August. He got back to even par for the tournament despite his continuing case of the so-called “chip yips.” The unofficial count now has him at seven chili-dipped or fatted chip shots and counting.
On the bright side, he and Horschel, off first on Saturday, completed their round in just over three hours. Also, Woods said his fever broke, and he birdied his final three holes.
“Not bad, I’m only 15 back,” he joked. (By day’s end he was 20 shots behind leader Jordan Spieth.)
Woods isn’t the only one having chipping problems either.
“It’s not him, it’s the grass,” said Zach Johnson. “We’re all doing it. I’ve flubbed two chips this week. It’s a very fine line out here.”
At the start of the week the questions surrounding Woods were all about his back and how it would hold up after surgery in March. On that front, at least, Woods is 100 percent healthy. He has swung freely and aggressively, and for the most part he seems to have a reasonable idea where the ball is going to go. No one anticipated his current problems.
“Initially I didn’t have the explosiveness,” Woods said of his front nine, which he played in 1 under when he wasn’t doubled over vomiting. “I was just pretty slow. As the round built on I was starting to feel better and started hitting the ball around my normal numbers.”
Woods posed for a photo with about 20 kids from the Tiger Woods Learning Center before walking through the cart barn and the clubhouse, not stopping in the locker room on the way to his car in the parking lot. He hasn’t slept. He hasn’t been able to eat. His mom Kultida is also sick.
He said he never considered quitting.
“Wasn’t easy and I fought hard,” he said. “That’s about all I had.”
In a tweet later Saturday, Woods acknowledged his girlfriend Lindsey Vonn, who won a World Cup skiing event in Canada in her first post-injury return.
I competed and Linds won.
— Tiger Woods (@TigerWoods) December 6, 2014