Condon/PGA TOUR Staff
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
DUBLIN, Ohio -- At least eight video cameras and their operators stood at the ready in the flash area beside the first tee at Muirfield Village Saturday afternoon. Another 15 reporters had notebooks and tape recorders poised.
But Tiger Woods, normally one of the most accessible athletes after finishing a round, good or bad, strode purposefully by the throng and declined comment after signing for a 79 in the third round of the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide Insurance.
The defending and five-time Memorial champion did speak briefly later with a member of the PGA TOUR media staff, though.
"It was a rough day," Woods said. "It was tough out there from beginning to end."
The beginning, in particular, was hard to swallow. The 44 Woods shot on the homeward nine, which was his first of the day, was the highest of his PGA TOUR career by a stroke. One bogey, two double bogeys and a triple bogey at the 18th hole figured prominently in the tally.
Woods' fierce pride took over on the back nine, though, as he birdied Nos. 1 and 2, then added another at the par-5 fifth. But he bogeyed two of his last four holes on the way to a 79 that matched the second highest score of his pro career.
"We didn't hit that many bad shots starting out the day and the next thing you know we are quite a few over par," Woods said. "It was a tough day. I tried to fight back on the back nine, just didn't quite materialize."
Woods didn't exactly get the breaks on the blustery Saturday, either. He ended up with a horrendous lie on the downslope to the back of the bunker at the 12th hole and had to blast out sideways to the fringe, eventually three-putting from 59 feet for double bogey.
A second straight double at the par-5 15th came after Woods hit his second shot behind a tree to the right of the green. He had to chip out of the woods and then chipped across the green where he ended up three-putting from 43 feet.
Interestingly, Woods hit six of seven fairways on the front nine, the last coming at the par-4 18th. But his second shot spun back off a green that is fortified by a false front, as did the ensuing chip. When Woods finally got the ball safely on the green, he proceeded to three-putt from 4 feet.
How much of an abberation was Saturday's round? Well, consider this: Woods came into the week with a scoring average of 69.63 for 51 rounds at Muirfield Village. The 79 was his highest score on Jack Nicklaus' signature creation -- by four strokes.
"It's just one of those things where I'm sure I'm not the only one who struggled out there," he said. "The conditions were tough, when I missed it cost me. I caught the wrong gusts at the wrong time, made a couple bad swings and all in all it just went the wrong way."