By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
ORLANDO, Fla. -- For all the spectacular rounds that litter Tiger Woods' career, it's days like this that have defined his career as much as anything.
"I didn't drive it well, didn't hit my irons well and didn't control my distances or trajectory well," Woods said.
But he did score pretty well, shooting a 3-under 69 that leaves him four shots off the lead of Justin Rose. More importantly, there are only a handful of players between Woods and Rose, and that leaves him in a better position than he could have been.
Woods hit just eight fairways and a dozen greens Thursday. He also had 28 putts -- a high number given how many greens he hit.
Woods did have four birdies -- including three in a row at one point -- and an eagle. But he also made three bogeys. Some of the par saves he made, however, were as important as anything.
That was evident from the start.
On Woods' first hole of the day, the 10th, he hit his approach from a fairway bunker long, leaving him a tricky chip shot back to the flag.
Woods skipped it up the bank to 2 feet and made the putt.
One hole later, Woods ran his 36-foot birdie attempt 3 feet past. He made the putt, however, to save another par.
After back-to-back bogeys to make the turn in 1 under, Woods again made big par saves on Nos. 1 and 2.
He drove it in the right rough at the first and was forced to lay up. Woods hit his wedge to 10 feet and again made the putt.
At the par-3 second, he nearly found a greenside bunker before pitching up to 6 feet and saving par.
"Those were key because I had just thrown away a couple of shots I gained on 16," Woods said.
So were birdies that followed at Nos. 4, 5 and 6. Two of those -- the fourth and sixth -- are par 5s, and Woods has made his living off par 5s in his seven victories here.
"It's just making a key save, a key putt here and there and keeping the round going," Woods said. "I certainly didn't play my best, but I got around and made a few good saves out there. I got a lot out of this round, and I threw away a few shots as well."