Woods stumbles badly before storms halt third round at PGA Championship

Tiger Woods made three bogeys in four holes before play was suspended.
Darren Carroll/SI

KIAWAH ISLAND, S.C. — Tiger Woods is no longer the player to beat at the 94th PGA Championship. If Saturday's third round here is remembered for anything — and it won't be remembered for much because storms stopped play with the leaders on the eighth green — it'll be remembered as the day Woods seriously damaged his chances to win a major championship this year.

Woods began the round tied for the lead with Vijay Singh. When play was halted late Saturday afternoon, Woods had just bogeyed three of his last four holes and had fallen to one under par, five shots behind co-leaders Rory McIlroy and Singh. Woods is now tied for 11th. He'll have 28 holes to finish on Sunday, which is a lot of golf, so he can recover.

(Related Photos: Saturday at the Ocean Course)

But his stumble was characteristic of what's happened to him in 2012. He was co-leader after 36 holes in the U.S. Open, only to collapse on the weekend, and he was in contention at the British Open until a fateful triple bogey out of a deep bunker early in the final round knocked him out of contention.

This PGA Championship took on an entirely different look by Saturday night. British Open runner-up Adam Scott shot 32 on the front side to move into third place, one stroke behind the leaders. Carl Pettersson was another shot back at four under, followed by Bo Van Pelt and Trevor Immelman at three. Steve Stricker, who shot 67, was among a four-way tie for seventh that included former U.S. Open champion Graeme McDowell, Peter Hanson and Ian Poulter.

Play will resume at 7:45 Sunday morning. After the third round is completed, the players will be re-paired into threesomes and will tee off on both and first and tenth tees for the final round. Fourth-round play will begin at 11:44 a.m., and the final threesome will tee off at 1:45 p.m. TNT will broadcast the end of the third round starting at 8 a.m. Because of limited parking, only Sunday ticket-holders will be allowed on the course.

Saturday's abbreviated story was all about Tiger and Rory. Woods looked shaky from the start. He lipped out a 20-foot birdie putt at the par-5 second hole, then hit his approach to three feet at the third and badly pulled his putt, missing an easy chance for birdie.

The par-4 fourth hole was Tiger's downfall. He hit 5-wood off the tee and sent his ball left into the gallery, where it hit a fan. Woods signed a glove for the spectator, then muscled his shot out of some thick rough, giving it one of his theatrical, full-body-rotation follow-throughs. That shot bounced left of the green, where it caromed off a youngster, who also got a signed glove from Woods. (Signing more than one glove on a hole is a sure indication you're in trouble.) Woods chunked his pitch short of the green, then chipped to three feet and made bogey.

(Related Photos: Spy photos of the players' bags)

It got worse. He hit a 5-iron shot left at the par-3 fifth hole, chipped to eight feet and made another poor putt — a stark contrast to his first two days at the Ocean Course, when he practically ran the table. Back-to-back bogeys. After a par at the sixth, Woods drove into a sandy area on the par-5 seventh. He had an awkward stance, advanced the ball into some thick rough and slashed an iron shot into a greenside bunker. He was not happy, firing his towel at his golf bag at one point. His fourth shot, from the bunker, clanked off the flagstick and rolled out 10 feet away. He missed the putt, making a costly bogey on a par 5.

Woods played a near-perfect 8-iron shot at the par-3 eighth, but it landed a few feet short and ran off the right side of the green. He chipped to six feet and was facing a crucial par putt when the horn sounded. So with play stopped for the day, Woods had already put up three bogeys and was in danger of making another.

It was a wasted opportunity for Woods because conditions were pretty favorable on Saturday. The winds were light until shortly before the storm hit.

McIlroy, last year's U.S. Open champion, got off to a sizzling start. He birdied the first two holes, then added birdies at the fifth, seventh and eighth. He got to seven under par for the tournament before bogeying the ninth, his last hole before play was halted. McIlroy also authored the strangest moment of the day when his tee shot on the par-4 third lodged in a tree. He dropped, took the one-shot penalty and got up-and-down to save par.

Singh, 49, was also off to a strong start, going two under through seven holes. If he were to win the PGA Championship on Sunday, he would be the oldest winner in major championship history, beating out Julius Boros, who was 48 when he won the 1968 PGA.