AFP/ Tulsa, United States
Tiger Woods limped his way to the worst round of his incredible comeback from severe leg injuries, firing a nine-over par 79 in yesterday’s third round of the PGA Championship.
Woods made five consecutive bogeys at a major for the first time in his career from the ninth through 13th holes and stood on 12-over 222 after 54 holes at rain-hit Southern Hills.
The 15-time major champion, who suffered severe right leg damage in a February 2021 car crash, shared next-to-last place among the 79 players who made the cut - 21 strokes off the pace.
American Will Zalatoris led on nine-under by a stroke over Chile’s Mito Pereira, making only his second major start, as they waited to tee off in the afternoon’s last group.
A throng of spectators lined every hole to catch a glimpse of Woods, cheering him around the course despite the woes in one of the worst rounds of his career.
Woods fired his worst major score in the third round of the 2002 British Open, struggling to a 10-over 81 in wind and rain at Muirfield. After Woods spent weeks hospitalized and months unable to walk, he recovered well enough to return only 14 months later at last month’s Masters, sharing 47th and pleased to walk all 72 holes. But a month after struggling to his worst Masters rounds with weekend 78s at Augusta National, Woods again could not follow the effort to make a cut with solid form.
Former world number one Woods, now ranked 818th, said after prior rounds his right leg, with limited mobility and strength, has been hurting all week. He requires ice baths and physical therapy between rounds to enable his right leg - held together by rods, plates, screws and pins - to have the strength to walk the 7,556-yard course.
Woods sank a 13-foot par putt at the first hole but found water off the second tee on the way to a bogey then lipped out a five-foot birdie putt at the fourth.
After another tee-shot splashdown at the sixth, Woods hit into greenside rough and needed three to get down for triple bogey, then missed a six-foot putt to bogey the seventh.
At nine, Woods embedded a ball in bunker-side grass blasting out of the sand and needed an eight-foot putt to salvage bogey and a six-over 41 on the front nine. That began his run of five bogeys in a row, errant tee shots costing him time and again.
Woods sank a 36-foot putt at the par-4 15th for his only birdie of the day and closed with three pars to break 80. As Zalatoris and Pereira chased a first major title, three past major champions were hot on their heels. Ninth-ranked American Justin Thomas, the 2017 PGA winner, was third on 134 after shooting 67 on Friday in brutal winds that later faded.
Two-time Masters champion Bubba Watson made nine birdies, his most in any major round, and matched the course record with a 63 to stand fourth on 135.
Watson had a chance to match the all-time major low round with a 62 but the American missed a 23-foot putt on the 18th hole, settling for a share of the Southern Hills standard set by Ray Floyd and equalled by Woods in his 2007 PGA victory.
Four-time major winner Rory McIlroy, the world number seven from Northern Ireland who led after 18 holes, shared fifth on 136 with Mexico’s Abraham Ancer and American Davis Riley on 136.
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