It was hardly a stroll in the park for Tiger Woods this week at Merion (Carr/Getty Images).
By Mike McAllister, PGATOUR.COM
ARDMORE, Pa. -- Tiger Woods said he enjoyed the atmosphere at Merion Golf Club and playing in front of the passionate golf fans in the Philadelphia area. Then he apologized.
"I'm sorry that the golf wasn't what I would like to have it," Woods said.
Woods entered the U.S. Open as the favorite. He leaves it still searching for his first major win since 2008.
Woods shot a final-round 4-over 74 to finish at 13 over for the tournament. That's his worst score in relation to par at the U.S. Open since he turned pro. His previous worst was 12 over in 2006 when he shot 82 in the second round and missed the cut at Winged Foot. Woods was 14 over in 1996 as an amateur.
"There's always a lesson to be learned in every tournament whether you win or lose," Woods said. "I'll look back at the things I did right and the things I did wrong. I did a lot of things right. Unfortunately I did a few things wrong as well."
What he did right was hit 70 percent of his fairways and 65 percent of his greens in regulation, both above the field average. He said he had the distances dialed in but he didn't have the proper locations with his irons.
On the greens, he needed 128 putts for the week and never could get his flatstick going.
"I struggled with the speed all week," Woods said. "These greens are grainy. It's one of the older bent grasses, creeping bent. So it's a little bit grainy. I struggled with the speed, especially right around the hole, putts were breaking a lot more, I gave it a little more break and then it would hang.
"That's kind of the way it was this week."
On Sunday, Woods opened with a birdie but followed with a triple-bogey 8 at the par-5 second when his tee shot went out of bounds.
He made consecutive bogeys at hole Nos. 6 and 7, then shot even par (two birdies, two bogeys) after that.
Of the 72 holes Woods played this week, 21 of them ended with bogey or worse.
Woods is currently tied for 39th. That would be his worst finish after making the cut at any U.S. Open. Last year he finished tied for 21st at the Olympic Club.
Woods began his final round at Merion 10 shots off the lead. (Redington/Getty Images)
ARDMORE, Pa. -- Tiger Woods' final round is under way at Merion, where he starts the day 10 shots off the lead after a 6-over 76 in Saturday's third round.
The 76 was Woods' highest score in the U.S. Open since he shot 76-76 and missed the cut in 2006 at Winged Foot.
How will Woods fare in the final round? Discuss below and follow his scorecard here.
Tiger Woods shoots 76 on Saturday and is 9 over through three rounds of the U.S. Open (Carr/Gettiy Images)
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
ARDMORE, Pa. -- There was a time when Tiger Woods seemed able to will putts into the hole at major championships.
This week at the U.S. Open, though, and particularly on Saturday when Woods made seven bogeys, that enormous desire wasn't enough to compensate when he couldn't get a feel for the greens.
Woods three-putted twice, missing par-savers from inside 3 feet each time, in his round of 76 that left the world No. 1 a distant 10 strokes off the lead. He had 36 putts in the third round and a total of 96 for the week that left him 53rd in that category among the 73 players who survived the cut.
When a reporter suggested Woods wasn't putting as well as he did five, six, seven years ago, the 14-time major champion was quick to point out that he led the PGA TOUR in strokes-gained putting until two weeks ago.
"I don't know what you're talking about," Woods said.
But when the scribe said he was specifically asking about major championships, Woods quietly said, "Yeah."
So barring an epic round on Sunday, Woods won't have a chance to win his fourth U.S. Open and a 15th major championship. Considering he came to Merion with four wins already this season, including THE PLAYERS Championship, that has to be a disappointment.
"It certainly is frustrating," Woods said. "At Augusta I was pretty close and I had the lead at one point and I hit that flag and ended up in the water. ... And I'm playing well enough to do it and unfortunately just haven't gotten it done."
A tie for 65th at the Memorial Tournament, an event he had won five times, wasn't the kind of preparation Woods wanted. Particularly not when he shot a third-round 79 that tied his highest score in a non-major.
"It is certainly frustrating because I certainly was feeling like I was playing well this week and I just didn't make the putts I needed to make," Woods said. "The first two days, I had like three three-putts (actually just two) 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 three-putt, I'm one shot back starting out today."
Tee to green on a challenging Merion layout, though, Woods couldn't be too disappointed. He has hit 78.6 percent of his fairways and 66.7 percent of his greens in regulation through the first three rounds.
Woods started Saturday on a positive note with a birdie on the first hole, too. But he followed that with seven bogeys for a total of 16 this week to just seven birdies.
"I didn't make anything today," Woods said. "I just couldn't get a feel for them, some putts were slow, some were fast and I had a tough time getting my speed right."
Rory McIlroy shot 75 and Tiger Woods 76 in the third round of the U.S. Open. (Redington/Getty Images)
ARDMORE, Pa. -- Playing together for the third straight day, Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy found themselves headed in the wrong direction in the third round of the U.S. Open.
Birdies on No. 1 were followed by 17 more holes of sheer frustration on a day when the world's No. 1 and 2 golfers were hoping to close the gap on the leaders. Instead, Woods and McIlroy will enter the final round at 8 over and 9 over, respectively -- and in need of an epic comeback with the current leaders at 2 under.
McIlroy shot a 75 while Woods had a 76 -- their highest scores of the week. McIlroy made two birdies and seven bogeys while Woods had seven bogeys after that opening birdie.
Woods, who already has won THE PLAYERS Championship and three other TOUR events this year, is seeking his fourth U.S. Open title. He won his last major exactly five years ago at Torrey Pines when he beat Rocco Mediate in an 18-hole playoff at the U.S. Open.
McIlroy has yet to win on the PGA TOUR this year, although he did finish second at the Valero Texas Open. He is the 2011 U.S. Open winner and reigning PGA champ.
ARDMORE, Pa. -- Only two players are under par at the moment at Merion, but Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy are still losing ground.
Woods made the turn in 2 over, McIlroy in 3 over and they are now six and seven shots off the lead, respectively.
Things looked promising early on for the top two ranked players in the world with each making birdie on the opening hole.
But then McIlroy hit his tee shot out of bounds on the par-5 second, and Woods managed just a par after a poor wedge shot that came up well short of the hole on his approach.
Woods then bogeyed three of the next four holes with his chipping and putting looking a lot like it did a couple of years ago than it has in four wins this season.
McIlroy, meanwhile, bogeyed four of his next five holes after the early birdie, then added one more bogey on No. 9.
By Mike McAllister, PGATOUR.COM
ARDMORE, Pa. -- Tiger Woods has just teed off to begin his third round at the U.S. Open. He's four shots back of co-leaders Phil Mickelson and Billy Horschel, so Tiger would like nothing more to make a big move this afternoon. That would probably require breaking par.
Third rounds have been Woods' most productive round at the U.S. Open in recent years.
In four of his last five U.S. Open appearances, Woods has posted a sub-par round. Three of those rounds were in the 60s; the other was a 1-under 70 in 2008 when he won at Torrey Pines.
His least productive third round in the past five years came last year at the Olympic Club when he shot a 5-over 75 as he slid down the leaderboard on the weekend.
Earlier in Tiger's career, the third round was actually his least productive U.S. Open round.
In his first 12 U.S. Open appearances (including two as an amateur), Woods made the cut 10 times. Only one time did he break par in the third round (in 2001).
In his first two U.S. Open wins, Woods shot even par in the third round -- a 71 in 2000 during his romp at Pebble Beach, and a 70 at Bethpage Black in 2002.
Woods grimmaces as he tees off on the eighth hole Friday at Merion. (Cannon/Getty Images)
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
ARDMORE, Pa. --Tiger Woods has already won a U.S. Open on a broken leg, so what's a sore elbow?
The world's top-ranked golfer said Friday that he injured his left elbow en route to winning THE PLAYERS Championship last month, though he did not specify when or how, saying only that it happened during one of the rounds.
"It is what it is," he quipped after carding an even-par 70 Friday at Merion Golf Club, where he enters the weekend 3 over and in contention for his first major championship since his epic victory in the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines five years ago.
The injury seemed to flare up after Woods hit out of the rough on the opening hole Thursday. He went on to shoot 73, finishing the round early Friday morning after play was suspended due to darkness following two lengthy weather delays.
According to Golf Channel's Notah Begay, a longtime friend of the 14-time major champion, Woods has inflammation in the elbow and treated it with ice and electrical stimulation Thursday night. He also said the pain occurs mostly when Woods is hitting out of the rough.
On a day when scores soared, Woods did well to finish at even par.
He made an early birdie on the par-3 13th after starting on No. 11 before giving it back with a bogey on No. 14 and another on 18.
Woods birdied two of his next four holes, however, and made just one bogey the rest of the day.
"They've really tried to, I think, protect the golf course, with it being as soft as it is," Woods said on a day when few red numbers were on the board. "And they've given us some really, really tough pins."
Not that it changed Woods' outlook any.
Asked if he likes his chances this weekend, Woods said, simply, "Yes."
After all, it turned out pretty good for him at Torrey Pines.
Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Adam Scott play together in the first two rounds of the U.S. Open
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
ARDMORE, Pa. -- The first time the USGA decided to pair the top three players in the world together for the first two rounds of the U.S. Open was in 2008 at Torrey Pines.
Two of the three -- No. 1 Tiger Woods and No. 3 Adam Scott -- are back in that grouping again on Thursday (1:14 p.m. ET) and Friday (7:44 a.m.) at Merion Golf Club for the 113th renewal the U.S. Open. Phil Mickelson, though, has been replaced by Rory McIlroy, who is now the No. 2 player in the world.
"I think it will be fantastic," Woods said. "I was part of that the first time they did it in '08. And it was very electric out there. I know they've done it a few more times. ... For me it's been fantastic. Normally we don't get those types of pairings very often.
"When you do it just makes it that much more enjoyable for us as players."
Scott, who comes to Merion as the only player with the chance to win the Grand Slam this year after his breakthrough victory at the Masters, remembers feeling like the third wheel back in 20008. Not that it was a surprise or anything.
"I think anyone would have felt like the third wheel that week," Scott said. "Remembering back to Torrey Pines, the hype was enormous around that pairing. Obviously with Tiger and Phil, it was so much to talk about with it being Phil's hometown and Tiger dominating at Torrey for years. And it was a great pairing.
"It was an experience that I'll never forget. I've never seen that many people on a Thursday morning on the first tee. It was a great atmosphere."
Scott knows the focus this week remains on the top two players. Woods is seeking his fourth U.S. Open -- and his first major since beating Rocco Mediate in a playoff at Torrey Pines. McIlroy, who has been a tad inconsistent of late, is going after his second U.S. Open in three years, as well as his third major overall.
"I think this year obviously there's a lot of focus on Tiger and Rory," Scott said. "I know what to expect out there, I think. ... I'm probably also the third wheel this week, as well. That's why I'm No. 3 in the world, otherwise I wouldn't be the third wheel, I guess."
McIlroy said he wasn't surprised by the pairing. He thinks it could help get him off to a good start.
"It's always nice to be a part of a group like that," the young Northern Irishman said. "Something that I'm excited about. It's a good thing. I like it because you're in a group like than there's a lot of buzz and a lot of atmosphere around it and it gets you focus from the first shot."
Sergio Garcia will be seeking his first major championship victory this week at Merion.
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
ARDMORE, Pa. -- During his Tuesday news conference at the U.S. Open, a contrite Sergio Garcia reiterated his apology about the recent racially insensitive comments he made concerning Tiger Woods.
Garcia said he left a handwritten note in Woods' locker and had hoped to talk with the world No. 1 on Monday after each finished his respective practice round.
"And hopefully he can take a look at it and, you know, it's a big week and I understand that it's difficult to meet up and stuff," Garcia said. "So hopefully I'll be able to do it. If not, at least he has read the note and he's happy with that."
Asked to reveal the contents of the letter, Garcia said it wasn't for him to do.
"I think that if he wants to show you ... I mean the note is for him, so if he wants to show you, then he can," Garcia said. "I don't have any problems with that. But I am not going to be the one showing you. Sorry."
Woods and Garcia did shake hands on the range Monday morning but only pleasantries were exchanged.
"I felt like it wasn't the appropriate place to, for me to, out of respect to him and to the other players to do it there," Garcia explained. "So I was hoping to see him afterwards. Unfortunately, when I got done practicing he was gone already, so I couldn't see him."
Woods, for his part, said it was time to move forward.
"It's already done," he said. "We've already gone through it all. It's time for the U.S. Open and we tee it up in two days."
Garcia said Woods' words meant a lot to him. So has the reception he's felt from the crowds in this Philadelphia hamlet.
"I think that I also have to say that the people around this last couple of days have been amazing," the Spaniard said. "They have been very, very supportive. So that to me it gives me a lot of good feelings and a lot of pride and hopefully we can move on and compete respectfully and just do our best."
Whether Garcia will be able to put the incident in the rear view mirror and contend for what would be his first major championship remains to be seen.
"It obviously doesn't help, but it is my own fault," he said. "So I don't have anyone to blame other than myself.
"We'll see. Like I said, the people have that made me feel very good out there, the last couple of days, so hopefully that will continue throughout the week and the only thing I can do is give my best effort and hopefully that would give me a chance. If not, we'll move on and we'll try to play well the week after."