Following his third-round 73, Tiger Woods meets with the media and talks about changing course conditions.
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
DUBLIN, Ohio -- Tiger Woods wasn't feeling quite up to par -- and not just because of that 39 he shot on the final nine holes Saturday at Muirfield Village.
He said earlier in the week that his allergies were acting up, and after the third round of the Memorial Tournament Woods indicated he might have a touch of the flu. Yet, Woods still finds himself in the hunt for his fifth Memorial Tournament victory despite a third-round 73 which marked just his second over-par score in his last 24 rounds at Muirfield Village.
"I've been better," Woods said as he met with reporters outside the clubhouse on an unseasonably chilly afternoon. "I was blowing my nose an awful lot in the towel, so I don't think Joey (LaCava, his caddy) is real happy about that. But overall it is what it is. You've just got to go out there and deal with it. I was focused and patient all day, so can't complain on that."
Woods was also tied for the lead throughout much of the front nine. After those four bogeys on the back nine, though, he ended the day owning solo fourth at 4 under, four strokes off the pace being set by Spencer Levin. Woods will play with Rickie Fowler in Sunday's penultimate group as the two seek their second wins of the 2012 season.
"I certainly probably shot the highest score I could have shot today considering the way I hit it," Woods said. "But I'm only four back, and out here with the conditions, supposed to be like this tomorrow again, anything can happen."
Woods started Saturday on a solid note, rolling in a 21-footer on the first hole -- his first birdie there since the first round of the 2000 tournament. His putter wasn't very cooperative the rest of the round, though, and Woods ended up using 32 strokes with the flat stick.
"I had a difficult time adjusting to the pace today," said Woods, no doubt cognizant of the way the wind had dried out greens dampened by Friday night's downpour. "I know they're ... faster than what they were yesterday. But they just didn't look that fast, and I ran a couple putts by, also left a few short. And also I was trying to stay steady in this wind, which is a task in itself, too. I did the best I could today."
Woods' putter may have not have been very obedient, particularly on the back nine where he had 18 putts, but tee to green he was solid. He's leading the field in greens in regulation and has hit over 71 percent of his fairways in the first three rounds.
"The things we've been working on the last few tournaments I'm finally starting to do," Woods said. "This is the way I know I'm capable of hitting the golf ball. The beauty of it is I've been missing the golf ball in the correct spots, and that's when I know I have control of my game is that you're not going to hit every shot perfect, but at least I miss it on the correct sides."
The par 5s remain a bit problematic, though. After going for the green on all four par 5s in the first round and playing them 3 under, Woods has laid up on seven in the last two rounds, making just two birdies.
"A couple of par 5s are just not the right wind for me," Woods explained, citing Nos. 5 and 11 and then talking about how long the 15th played on Saturday. "Some of the shorter guys won't be able to carry the creek on the left if they pull it. I haven't ever seen it play that long. But it is important to get it down there and give yourself a run at some of these par 5s because there's very few birdie holes out there."
So what is Woods' target score for Sunday? He will be looking for his first come-from-behind victory since the 2009 World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational. He's had to make up ground in two of his four Memorial Tournament wins, as well.
"I don't know," Woods said. "The winning score may not change from what it's at right now, or it may go higher, may go lower. We don't know. That's the hard part about this golf course is there's so many demanding holes that anything can happen."