By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- On what’s traditionally known as moving day at the Masters, Tiger Woods was stuck in neutral.
Woods, who has won here four times, is unlikely to do so this year after an even-par 72 Saturday left him well off the lead with one round to play in the year’s first major.
“I was so close to putting it together today,” said Woods, who worked on his swing into the dark on the driving range Friday night. “Unfortunately I did not play the par 5s very well today.”
That’s been a prevailing theme all week. On holes in which he’s feasted on in the past, Woods has managed to play the par 5s at Augusta National in just 1 under with 11 pars and one birdie.
On a day in which Woods drove it considerably better than he has the last two days, hitting 11 of 14 fairways, he struggled to control his irons. Woods hit 13 greens in regulation -- more than he has in any round this week -- but often put the ball in the wrong spot. The result was 31 putts.
“I would just hit a couple of good shots in a row and compound the problem with a bad shot in the wrong spot,” Woods said. “Each pin you have to miss the golf ball in a certain spot and I have been missing the spots just by a little bit here and there.”
Small misses can lead to big numbers at Augusta National.
For a second straight day Woods good off to a good start with two birdies in his first four holes. But after hitting it close on No. 5 Woods jammed his putt through the break and missed the birdie attempt. One hole later, he three-putted from just off the green and made bogey.
After that, Woods made a dozen straight pars.
Coming into the Masters, Woods had made 10 eagles and 125 birdies in 240 attempts as a pro on the par 5s at Augusta National. He hasn’t come close to matching that percentage this week.
Even on the par-4s he needed help -- Woods chipped in on No. 11 just to save par.
“I would like to say it was poor driving, but then I drive in the fairways and then miss into a bad spot or I would miss the drive and then compound the problem from there,” said Woods, who just two weeks ago ended a more than two-year winless drought with a victory at Bay Hill.
That week, he led the field in greens in regulation at better than 79 percent. This week, he’s hit just 59 percent of his greens.
“It was just one thing after another,” Woods said.
Woods’ frustration reached a tipping point earlier in the week when he dropped his 9-iron and kicked it after an errant shot on the 16th hole in the second round. Saturday, he let go of the club a few more times.
“I apologize if I offended anybody by that,” Woods said of his actions on Friday. “I've hit some bad shots and it's certainly frustrating at times not hitting the ball where you need to hit it. I certainly heard that people didn't like me kicking the club, but I didn't like it either. I hit it right in the bunker and it didn't feel good on my toe either. ”
For now, it’s back to the drawing board for Woods.
“I’m just trying to get back to how I had it at Bay Hill and prior to Bay Hill,” he said. “I got here and for some reason I kind of fell into my same old patterns again. I just can't do that.”