OLYMPIA FIELDS, Ill. – There was a glimmer of hope as Tiger Woods eyed a 12-foot birdie putt on the ninth hole at Olympia Fields.
With his card clean of bogeys and showing two birdies, Woods had pulled within seven shots of the lead in Saturday’s third round of the BMW Championship and within six shots of the tied-for-third result he would likely need to earn his way to next week’s Tour Championship, the culmination of the FedEx Cup Playoffs.
He was in control of his game, unlike in the previous two rounds. He had found the fairway with five consecutive tee shots. He just missed with his birdie putt from 10 feet on No. 2 but canned birdie putts of 9 and 13 feet the next two holes.
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His odds were long to make it to East Lake for the Tour Championship, but they were improving. Especially with the course only slightly less painful than it was the first two rounds, giving Woods a chance to make up some ground if he added a few more birdies and posted his score before the leaders began their day.
But Woods left his birdie bid on the ninth woefully short.
And then his game exited stage right. Or left, depending on which way his tee shots were sailing into the rough. A round that started with so much promise ended with a thud. A muted thud, one could say, as Woods refused to talk to the media for the second consecutive day.
Woods put his signature to a 2-over-par 72 and left the premises at 10 over and 11 shots out of the lead. His day started to take a turn for the worse when he made the turn and missed the fairway on the 10th, which led to a bogey. Then he missed the fairway on the 11th, the 12th, the 14th and the 15th.
On the par 3s, he lipped out for birdie on the 13th from 12 feet and parred the 16th.
Any hope he still clung to about playing the Tour Championship came to an end on the 17th when he found a water hazard using a 3-wood off the tee, took his drop then sailed his third into the rough on the left, went over the green with his fourth, chipped to 5 feet with his fifth and then missed the putt for a triple bogey.
This is just the third time Woods has started a non-major with three over-par rounds in his career, the other two coming in the 2007 Players Championship and the 2010 World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational.
Woods isn’t one to go through the motions no matter how far he’s out of the lead, so he’ll draw on something to motivate him through Sunday’s final round, which more than likely will be his final 18 of the 2019-2020 season.
Perhaps he’ll have his eye on the U.S. Open at Winged Foot in New York in three weeks, which is his next expected start. Or there will be a particular part of his game he’ll concentrate on. Or all parts of his game.
This content was originally published here.