DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – Tiger Woods needed something in the mid-60s on Saturday at the Dubai Desert Classic, but he settled for a 2-under 70.
It won’t get the world No. 1 back in the hunt for this week’s title, but following his driving struggles over the first two days he embraced Round 3 as a step in the right directon.
“I wasted a lot of opportunities out there today,” said Woods, who will begin the final round at 5 under par, which was six shots off the lead when he left the golf course.
“Today was an easy day for me to get to 10 (under). I only hit a couple bad shots and missed a ton of putts. But I really hit it good. Just threw away a lot of shots.”
Woods hit 7 of 14 fairways on Saturday, compared to an anemic 4 of 14 on Friday. He also hit 13 of 18 greens in regulation, including every putting surface on his closing nine. His comeback, however, was stalled on the greens on his way to a 29-putt day.
But it could have been worse.
After chipping in for par at the first hole, Woods severely miss-hit his second shot at the par-5 third into the desert and made bogey. But he rallied with textbook birdies at the eighth, 10th and 12th holes.
Woods missed opportunities on his final two holes, a 5 footer for birdie at the 17th hole and a three-putt from 35 feet at the par-5 finishing hole for a par.
“My grip got a little off. It’s something that’s very simple. A really easy fix,” he said. “It’s one of my old habits. I tend to get back into that old pattern.”
Woods, who plans to fly to India on Monday for a corporate outing, did not go to the range after his round.