SAN FRANCISCO – Honk if you passed Tiger Woods Saturday at the U.S. Open.
With 13 players moving ahead of Woods in the third round, that’s one noisy leaderboard they’ve got at The Olympic Club.
Tied for the lead at the start of the third round, Woods must have felt as if everyone was passing him.
With a 5-over-par 75, Woods equaled his worst third round in 15 U.S. Opens as a pro. He will begin Sunday five shots off the lead.
Only eight players posted worse scores than Woods on Saturday.
Once the sleekest, sportiest roadster in golf on “Moving Day,” Woods didn’t have his hood up on the roadside Saturday, but he knows his engine needs some work if he’s going to win his 15th major championship.
The good news is that he believes he can have his roadster purring again come Sunday.
“I'm definitely still in the ball game,” Woods said. “I'm only five back, and that's certainly doable on this golf course, for sure.”
Woods has never come from behind after 54 holes to win a major. He has won all 14 of his major championships with the lead going into the final round, or at least a share of it.
The game plan that worked so well for Woods on Thursday and Friday won’t be abandoned. Woods believes his engine just needs a little tune up, not an overhaul.
“I was still doing the same thing, I just didn't make the pars,” Woods said. “I kept leaving myself in tough spots. I didn't really have that many birdie putts today. They were all lag putts, that or these breaking putts. I didn't have very many good looks. It's just frustrating when I know I can put myself in position to have a few good looks, at least a few more, and I got to bury those [tough putts].”
Woods day didn’t seem like it could end a whole lot worse, until he walked off the 18th green and accidentally jammed his hand into a camera held by a photographer. Woods shook his hand as if he had hurt it, but he later reported to media that he is fine. He was out on the practice putting green shortly after his round, showing no lingering effects from the incident.
With so many players making moves around Woods on Saturday, the disappointment had to be doubled.
Olympic was rocking more than it has all week with John Peterson making a hole-in-one at the 13th, Ernie Els pitching in for eagle at the 17th, Fredrik Jacobson making three birdies in a row and Lee Westwood closing out a nice charge with a birdie at the 18th.
With all those roars erupting around him, Woods mustered a single birdie. Westwood made five of them passing Woods. Beau Hossler, the 17-year-old amateur, made four of them passing Woods.
“Today, I felt the course played probably the fairest of the last couple of days,” Els said posting 68 to move into a tie for fourth. “I felt there was a bit more moisture in there, and the flag positions were fine, If you played proper golf, today you could shoot under par.”
Instead of roars, Woods heard mostly groans Saturday, too many of them with galleries feeling his pain as he missed shots.
After stubbing a short chip shot at the 18th, barely getting his ball onto the green, Woods was enveloped in groans from the masses jammed along the hillside above the hole. The same thing happened at the eighth hole, where Woods missed a 3-foot putt for par. He had to back off his bogey putt to let the buzz fade before finishing out.
Woods never got in rhythm, making bogeys at two of the first three holes, four of the first eight.
Jim Furyk outplayed Woods in their pairing as the final group off, posting a round (70) five shots better than Woods to move into a tie for the 54-hole lead with Graeme McDowell.
Still, Furyk isn’t discounting Woods.
“I don't think he looked that far off,” Furyk said. “It's just stuff happens at U.S. Opens sometimes.”
Woods will be looking to make it good stuff on Sunday and race past all those guys who passed him on Saturday.
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