Tiger Woods score: Thrilling Round 3 at Memorial Tournament has victory attainable on Sunday
Remember when Tiger Woods was 4 over through seven holes on Thursday in Round 1 of the Memorial Tournament? I remember. Woods has played his next 47 holes in 13 under par and shot a 4-under 68 on Saturday in Round 3 to back up his 5-under 67 on Friday.
Woods, who is now 9 under for the week, is T7, five back of leader Bryson DeChambeau, and on Sunday will go for his first win in nearly five years. I repeat — we could see Tiger Woods’ 80th win on Sunday at Muirfield Village after two straight days of some of the best ball-striking of the season.
Tiger went out in 31 on Saturday with an eagle at the par-5 5th and three birdies over the last four holes on that side. The eagle was his second in two days, although it wasn’t the thrill ride we got on the par-5 11th on Friday when he holed out from 95 yards away.
Still, it jump-started his round and led to a series of delectable approach shots. Woods made birdie putts of 10 feet, three feet and four feet on three of those next four holes. In other words, he was in tight to the flag a lot. In fact, over his first nine holes, Woods hit seven (!) approach shots inside 15 feet and had eight birdie looks from that distance or in. It’s actually somewhat remarkable he didn’t shoot something better than 31.
The 9th hole epitomized that first nine. A lit-up stinger off the tee followed by a wedge to four feet. Off we went to the back nine trailing the leaders by just one stroke.
On the back nine, he continued to fire at pins and hit pay dirt. He scared the lead on a missed four-footer on the par-4 14th, but then he tied up at 11 under with Justin Rose, Patrick Cantlay and Joaquin Niemann (quite a crew!) with this 14-foot explosion on the par-5 15th.
However, three-putt bogeys on Nos. 16 and 18 turned a 66 into a 68 and left Woods farther down the board than he would have liked going into Sunday. He followed his 31 on the front with a 37 on the back.
Woods ended the day with 11 (!) looks at birdie from 15 feet and in, which is absolutely ludicrous and also shows you how poorly he’s putting it. Tiger has lost six (!) strokes to the field with his flat stick (including a stroke and half on Saturday) and sits near last in putting on the week.
On the other hand, the ball-striking show he’s putting on will make your knees weak. Woods has gained nearly 14 strokes on the field on his approach shots and shots around the green. Fourteen! If he’d putted or driven it average, he’d be leading by three!
Woods noted on Friday that he’s felt great working the ball both ways this week, and that has been clear over the past two rounds as we’ve seen him pull at pins on all corners of these greens.
Now Woods moves tobecause of the threat of bad weather. Tiger shot an 85 the last time he played a third round on this course (in 2015). He finished dead last in that event, in case you keep forgetting how far he has come in the last 36 months.
The question now is whether Woods can win the way he’s often won at Muirfield Village: With a monster finishing kick. While Woods often plays a brand of defense on Sundays Nick Saban would be proud of, that hasn’t been the case at the Memorial.
Woods has won with Sunday rounds of 70, 69, 67, 66 and 65. It will likely take something closer to that 65 than the 70 in Round 4 this week for him to get his sixth victory at this track. And with the way he’s hitting the ball right now, I’m not sure I’d bet against that.