Tiger Woods made birdie at the first hole, only to watch his day go racing downhill from there.
By the time it was over, Woods skidded to seven bogeys and a 6-over-par 76 Saturday, tumbling down the leaderboard and matching his worst round as a pro at the US Open. That left him 10 strokes behind third-round leader Phil Mickelson, the only player under par at the short but devilishly tough Merion Golf Club.
Despite leading the PGA Tour in putting in recent weeks, Woods needed 36 putts on the severely undulating greens. He blamed his inability to gauge the speed of those baffling putting surfaces for his three days of uneven play – and he was right.
Woods is tied for third in fairways hit and 22nd in reaching the greens in regulation. But he’s averaged 32 putts per round, which left him tied for 53rd in the field of 73 players.
“It’s certainly frustrating because I was feeling like I was playing well this week and I just didn’t make the putts I needed to make. The first two days, I had, like, three 3-putts and I was four shots off the lead, and I missed a boatload of putts within 10 feet. So I really wasn’t that far off. If I clean up the round and don’t 3-putt, I’m one shot back starting out today. …” Woods added.
What made his performance here perhaps even more surprising is that Woods has already won four times this season, including The Players Championship – sometimes called golf’s fifth major – and three of his last five starts. Most recently, however, Woods stumbled to an 8-over-par finish and a tie for 65th at the Memorial, a tournament he’d won five times.