Gerald Herbert / Associated Press
A strong finish allowed Tiger Woods to recover an equal doubling of 72 in the third round of the 2019 Players Championship.
After opening the tournament with a score below 70, Woods has seen his score rise in each of the past two days. His only problem on Friday was a four-man bogey on number 17; otherwise, he fired five shots under par over the other 17 holes.
Woods' problem in the third round appeared at the pre-nine. The 43-year-old had a boguey in the normal two hole after hitting his tee shot in the rough. He then cashed his second shot in a bunker in front of the green.
According to ESPN Stats & Info, the No. 2 TPC Sawgrass has always been one of Woods's best holes throughout his career:
Tiger Woods is 3-over by 9 holes of his 3rd round at TPC Sawgrass.
His forehead 9 included a bogey at the 2nd hole of Par-5. He had played hole 33 beneath his career by entering today, his second best score at any hole in the course (-54 on the 16th par-5). https://t.co/QlACumuboz
The dark clouds would continue to hover above Woods' head on # 3 and # 8 with two other bogeys. He made the three-man turn to equal the day.
Going back to the back nine proved to be the cure for what was sick. His first birdie of the day came at No. 12 after a great tee shot that landed 31 feet from the hole.
After a series of three equal rounds, Woods found his pace on the 16th hole normal. He got another shot with a bird. It was also the first putt that he had sunk more than five feet from the hole (7 "11").
A bad putting was a key story for Woods throughout the round. He needed a total of 31 putts over 18 holes, including 17 out of the top nine.
Woods' confidence in his short game has improved in the bottom right with three putts in total over the last three holes. He even found the redemption of No. 17 with a birdie – his second on the tournament pitch – and was able to share a moment of joy with Kevin Na.
It's so good.
@TigerWoods and Kevin Na share some bursts of laughter on the iconic green island @THEPLAYERSChamp. 😂
For the ride, however, Woods cost yourself 2.7 shots with the putter. He finished better than average in the first two rounds, including a strong mark of 1.96 on Thursday.
Even though Woods has ruled out mistakes in the last two rounds, this event has always been positive. The native Californian looks perfectly healthy after a neck injury that has cost him time.
Woods enters the last three-point lap of normal with the ability to display a small number with some minor improvements. He is not going to leave TPC Sawgrass with a win, but a solid finish will give a boost to self-confidence for next season.