Tiger Woods makes his third straight birdie at the 11th hole on Thursday.
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- Ryan Palmer has vaulted into a tie for second place and Tiger Woods is also on the move as the first round of THE PLAYERS Championship winds down at TPC Sawgrass on Thursday afternoon.
Palmer, who birdied five straight holes on the back nine to turn in 32, has added two more on the front to move to 6 under. Also finished at that number, which is three strokes off Roberto Castro's torrid pace, are Rory McIlroy and Zach Johnson.
Woods, who leads the FedExCup and world rankings, has just made his fourth straight birdie, the streak starting at No. 9 when he tapped in from 22 inches. He added a 6-footer at No. 10, an up-and-down from the greenside bunker at the par-5 11th hole and a 5-footer at No. 12.
In the nine years since he won THE PLAYERS in 2001, Woods has not shot lower than a 67. He has already won three times in 2013.
Padraig Harrington, Webb Simpson and 2008 PLAYERS champ Sergio Garcia are among the group tied at 4 under. Harrington has played 15 holes, Simpson 14 and Garcia 13.
Tiger Woods birdies the second hole at TPC Sawgrass on Thursday.
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- On a day when Roberto Castro tied the TPC Sawgrass record of 63 and the Stadium Course is ripe for scoring, Tiger Woods is finding it difficult to get untracked.
woods, who has already won three times this year, just tapped in from 22 inches at the par-5 ninth for his second birdie of the day. He's made the turn in 2 under after hitting just five fairways and five greens in regulation. He's one-putted six times and has 12 for the day.
Woods won THE PLAYERS in 2001 but has only posted one top-10, a tie for eighth in 2009, in his last nine starts. In his last 20 rounds, he's only broken 70 three times.
Click here to follow his round on ShotTracker.
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- No one has ever successfully defended at THE PLAYERS Championship, where Matt Kuchar will begin his quest to become the first to do so this afternoon.
With pristine conditions -- sunny skies, hardly a breath of wind -- scoring has been good so far in the opening round at TPC Sawgrass. Will it continue? Here is a look at who and what to watch for this afternoon.
Lee Westwood (1:18 p.m. ET): The Englishman has knocked on the door a few times here -- most recently in 2010 when he was in contention going into Sunday before shooting 74 to finish fourth. He also finished fifth and sixth in 1998 and 1999 and given his ball-striking abilities should be a factor again.
Phil Mickelson (1:28 p.m. ET): As difficult as this tournament -- or Mickelson -- is to predict, Lefty has been largely consistent if nothing else since his win here in 2007. He's finished in the top 25 every other year the last five and for his career has eight top 25s in the event.
Webb Simpson (1:28 p.m. ET): The reigning U.S. Open champion admitted to a lack of confidence earlier this season. Then he finished second at Hilton Head, where he lost in a playoff. He's missed three of four cuts here, however.
Sergio Garcia (1:39 p.m. ET): The 2008 champion (he also finished second the year before) has just one finish in the top 20 since, but he has played well this year with three top 10s. His ball-striking should work well here, but with Garcia it all comes down to how well he putts.
Luke Donald (1:39 p.m. ET): The former world No. 1 finished sixth last year and tied for fourth the year before with all of last last eight rounds and 11 of his last 12 on the Stadium Course at par or better.
Tiger Woods (1:49 p.m. ET): For all his accomplishments, Woods has won THE PLAYERS just once, in 2001. Though he has three wins this season, he has just one top 10 here since that lone victory a dozen years ago.
Matt Kuchar (1:49 p.m. ET):The defending champion has finished in the top 15 in three of the last four years and in 2004 he tied for 16th. This season, Kuchar has four top 10s, including a win.
Brandt Snedeker (1:49 p.m. ET): He was admittedly exhausted after being in contention at the Masters and subsequently missed the cut in Hilton Head. He was also one of the hottest players in the game before getting injured in February. Snedeker has struggled here, missing the cut each of the last four years.
Woods is coming off a fourth-place finish at the Masters. (Ehrmann/Getty Images)
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- Tiger Woods has officially committed to next week's PLAYERS Championship.
It will be the first time Woods has played since finishing fourth at the Masters. He skipped this week's Wells Fargo Championship -- an event he has won and typically plays -- because of a change in the schedule.
Woods usually takes three weeks off after the year's first major. The Wells Fargo Championship comes only two weeks after the Masters.
Woods last won THE PLAYERS Championship in 2001, his only victory in the event.
Last year, Woods tied for 40th after finishing the week 1 under.
He comes into this year's tournament with three wins and only one finish outside the top 5 in five stroke-play events on the PGA TOUR.
Tiger Woods captured PGA TOUR Player of the Month presented by Avis honors in March for his victories at the World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship and the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard, garnering 61 percent of the vote. Kevin Streelman, winner of the Tampa Bay Championship presented by EverBank, was second.
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By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Tiger Woods had reclaimed his No. 1 world ranking. He'd won the last two tournaments he'd played in and a total of three times in just five starts this year.
But the man who came to Augusta National as such an overwhelming favorite wasn't able to get the job done. Woods, who was seeking his fifth Green Jacket and first Masters win since 2005, closed with a 70 on Sunday and came up short at 5 under.
Woods, who was assesssed a two-stroke penalty for taking an improper drop at the 15th hole in the second round before he teed of on Saturday, couldn't get off to the kind of start he needed to force the issue. He started the final round four strokes off the pace.
But Woods went out in a disappointing 37 on Sunday. He gave his fans a glimmer of hope with a birdies at No. 10 and both par 5s on the back nine before closing with a trio of pars as the leaders pressed onward.
"I had a hard time getting accustomed to the speed," Woods said after his round. "It was so much slower than yesterday -- and that was before it rained. I had a hard time hitting putts hard enough."
Woods, who hasn't won a major since the 2008 U.S. Open, was pleased with his performance overall, though.
"I played well," said the 14-time major champion. "Unforunately I didn't make enough putts and I missed a few shots here and there. I thought if I shot 65 I would have won it outright and it turns out that might have been the number."
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- The last three times Tiger Woods has entered the final round of the Masters inside the top 10 on the leaderboard, he has produced a round in the 60s.
That includes his 5-under 67 two years ago when he started ninth but eventually finished tied for fourth.
That 67 is his lowest final round in 18 starts at Augusta National. He may need to shoot lower, though, to have any chance of making up the four shots in which he currently trails co-leaders, Brandt Snedeker and Angel Cabrera.
In his four Masters wins, Tiger entered the final round with the lead.
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Tiger Woods has never won a major when trailing after 54 holes, and he trails leaders Brandt Snedeker and Angel Cabrera by four.
No Masters champion has ever made an 8 on a hole -- which Woods did after being assessed a two-stroke penalty for taking an improper drop -- en route to victory.
Only three times in the last 22 years has the winner come from outside the final pairing on Sunday. Woods is playing in the fourth-to-last group.
So what are Woods' chances?
He's won three times this season, but hasn't slipped on a Green Jacket since 2005 and hasn't won a major since 2008.
If not for hitting the pin with his approach to the 15th hole Friday and his ball caroming back into the water, he would likely have a share of the lead.
Woods' lowest final round here is a 67, two years ago. His lowest ever score here is a 65, in the third round in 1997. He'll likely need something similar Sunday.
What do you think Woods' chances are? Discuss below.
Tiger Woods splashes out of the bunker at the par-5 eighth on Saturday. (How/Getty Images)
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- If Tiger Woods is going to win a fifth Green Jacket and 15th career major championship, he will need to do something he has yet to do in his 17-year career.
Woods has never won a major coming from behind. After a 2-under 70 Saturday, he trails leaders Brandt Snedeker and Angel Cabrera by four strokes with 18 holes to play in the 77th Masters.
Before teeing off Saturday, however, Woods was assessed a two-stroke penalty for a rules violation on the 15th hole during Friday's second round.
Woods didn't realize there might be a problem until he saw a text message from his agent, Mark Steinberg, on Saturday morning.
"I didn't know what was going on," Woods said. "He said, 'Fred (Ridley) wants to talk to you. I called up Freddie, and he explained the whole situation, says come on in and let's talk about it, so I did, and we went through the whole process from there."
Ridley, the chairman of the Masters competition committee, explained that Woods had taken an illegal drop after hitting his third shot into the water on the par 5 and would be assessed the penalty -- rather than be disqualified.
"I wasn't even really thinking," Woods said of the drop. "I was still a little ticked at what happened, and I was just trying to figure, OK, I need to take some yardage off this shot, and that's all I was thinking about was trying to make sure I took some yardage off of it, and evidently, it was pretty obvious, I didn't drop in the right spot."
Woods dropped to 1 under for the tournament after 36 holes, but he's now 3 under going into Sunday's final round.
"(The day) started off obviously different," Woods added. "Once I came to the golf course I was ready to play. I'm right there in the ballgame."
Woods opened with a birdie on the first hole Saturday but managed to play the rest of the front nine in just 1 over with two bogeys and one birdie.
He fared better on the back with three birdies -- including one on the 15th hole -- and one bogey.
Woods would have been even closer to the lead had his birdie putt at the eighth hole not circled the entire lip -- and then some -- before spinning out. "Never seen a ball do that," Woods said.
Asked if the two-stroke penalty was a fair one, he said, "Absolutely. I made a mistake."
Asked if he thought he should have taken himself out of the tournament, Woods said, "Under the rules of golf I can play. If it was done a year or two ago, whatever, I wouldn't have the opportunity to play. But the rules have changed, and under the Rules of Golf I was able to play."
Now the only question that remains is whether he can come from behind and win.