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."