March 01, 2014
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
- Woods had seven birdies and just two bogeys Saturday morning at PGA National. (Franklin/Getty Images)
PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. -- If nothing else, Saturday's round at The Honda Classic was a step in the right direction for Tiger Woods.
Or perhaps it is the start of something bigger.
Woods made seven birdies and just two bogeys en route to a 5-under 65 at PGA National for what was his best score of the year. He is tied for 17th and seven shots back.
"I didn't hit the ball very well (Friday); just kind of grinded it out," Woods said. "Today I struck the ball well and made some putts."
Woods' ballstriking was indeed much improved. Despite finding fewer than half his fairways, he hit 11 greens in regulation and took only 23 putts, his fewest of the week by two.
He also had a chip-in for a second straight day.
Woods' season has gotten off to a slow start this year. He missed the secondary cut at Torrey Pines and finished a pedestrian 41st in Dubai.
This week, he made the cut on the number after struggling for two days with his irons, or putter, or both.
Saturday, though, he found his rhythm quickly. In the rare position of playing in the second group off, Woods rolled in a 15-foot birdie putt on the opening hole.
After a sloppy bogey on the par-4 fourth, where he hit a wedge approach from 58 yards over the green, he birdied two of the next three holes, both par 3s, with putts from 38 and 25 feet, respectively.
"I just felt like I had good feel today," said Woods, who earlier in the week admittedly struggled to find his speed on the putting surface.
On the back nine, he played even better, sticking his approach on the 10th to 8 feet before holing out from more than 50 feet left of the 12th green.
He added back-to-back birdies on Nos. 14 and 15, where he again he had good looks from 15 and 5 feet.
His seven birdies were the most he has had in a round all year and perhaps most importantly gave Woods the spark he has been looking for.
"It's going to turn around," Woods said of his early-season struggles. "We are all going to have hot spells and we're going to have cold spells, especially the longer we stay out here. I've had situations where it just seems like no matter what you do, you play, nothing really goes your way."
Two years ago here, Woods entered the final round nine shots off the lead before charging into contention with a 62 to tie for second two shots back of winner Rory McIlroy.
This week, Woods is sevn back of McIlroy heading into the last day.
"I'm up there as of now, but we'll see what the guys do this afternoon," Woods said. "Five (under) is all right. Five is still in the ballgame."