Tiger Woods has sensationally drawn himself from the PGA Championship after a horror third round.
One day after a series of clutch putts and short-game wizardry allowed Woods to reach the weekend at Southern Hills, his third round concluded with another big moment.
He made a 1.5-metre par putt to break 80.
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“I didn’t do anything right,” Woods said after signing for a nine-over 79, by two shots his worst score in the PGA Championship. “I didn’t hit many good shots. therefore, I ended up with a pretty high score.”
It wasn’t his worst in a major. There was that 81 in the 2002 British Open in the raging wind and bitter cold of Muirfield that ended his hopes for a Grand Slam. He had an 80 at Chambers Bay in the 2015 US Open while recovering from the first of what would be five back surgeries.
This was painful to watch, and not just the sloppy play with wedges and two water balls.
Much like the weekend at the Masters, his first competition since the February 2021 because crash that mangled his right leg, the limp became more pronounced as the day went on.
The weather, compared with a heat index that approached triple digits earlier in the week – didn’t help.
“You feel so sorry for him having to go through this,” said Shaun Norris, the South African who played with Woods before a large gallery, but certainly not the size of the previous two days.
“But then again, you also see the type of person that he is, that he grinds through everything and pushes himself, even all the pain and that,” Norris said. “It’s not easy to see a guy like him have to go through that and struggle like that. He’s swinging it nicely, and I think he’ll be back once he gets back to normal health and sorts out all the problems.”
Woods chose not to speak to the media, instead offering a few thoughts to a pool reporter. He didn’t get into one of the clear problems, which was distance control. Whether the ball wasn’t flying as far because of the cold or his speed was slower than he realised, there were two occasions when Woods was stunned to see where his ball landed.
One was on the par-3 sixth hole, when Woods’ shot not only came up short, it found the water. He put his next shot short into the shaggy collar, flubbed a chip and walked off with a triple bogey.
And that was only the start.
Woods made five straight bogeys from the ninth hole. One of them was on the par-3 11th, when he posed over an 8-iron only to see it land short — well short. He looked back at his caddy and said, “That’s short of the bunker!”
His pitch up the hill had so much pace that it ran over the green and down the slope, and he had to make a 1.2 meter shot to escape with bogey. This was one hole after a similar pitch up the hill from slightly farther away settled on the top shelf of a green. The pin was at the front.
And then on the par-5 13th, when a bold play to go over the green from the first cut of rough and into a stiff wind appeared to be pay off, his pitch from 30 meters out went 10 meters past the pin and off the green. A likely birdie turned into a bogey.
“Couldn’t get off the bogey train,” he said.
Even when he looked like a lost cause, and there were moments where he looked as though his right knee began to buckle, Woods rarely rushed a shot or a putt.
The lone bright spot was a 10-metre birdie putt on the 15th, and Woods forced a smile as he swiped his right index finger in the air to mark his first birdie of the day.
It was also his only one.
Three pars, including the 10-metre shot on the last, gave him a 79 and a position at the bottom of the leaderboard, along with another early start on Sunday. But he won’t make it there, after deciding to withdraw before the fourth round.
He was asked if days like this — high pain, high score — made him question the process it takes to play and if he would tee it up on Sunday.
“Well, I’m sore. I know that is for a fact,” he said. “We’ll do some work and see how it goes.”
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