TULSA: Tiger Woods struggled to a six-over par start on his front nine in Saturday’s third round of the PGA Championship, fading after a fight to reach the weekend despite his severe leg injuries.
Woods found water off the tee on his way to a bogey at the second hole and a triple bogey at the par-3 sixth and made the turn at rain-hit Southern Hills on 9-over par.
That left the 15-time major champion sharing last place among the 79 players who made the cut — 18 strokes off the pace.
World number 30 Will Zalatoris, who fired a bogey-free 65 on Friday to grab the lead on nine-under 131, was one stroke ahead of Chile’s Mito Pereira, making only his second major start, as they waited to tee off in the afternoon’s last group.
Woods, who hurt his right leg in a February 2021 car crash, grinded to a one-under par 69 on Friday to make the cut on three-over 143, but found only early misery after his fight to play the weekend.
A throng of spectators lined every hole to catch a glimpse of Woods, cheering him around the course despite his woes.
Woods made a 13-foot par-saving putt at the first hole but made bogey at the next and 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, falling to 7-over.
Woods found the right rough and 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.
Woods, 46, was hospitalized for weeks and unable to walk for months but recovered well enough to return in April at the Masters, where he shared 47th and was pleased at being able to walk all 72 holes.
There was a sign that good scores could be made on the rain-softened layout. England’s Laurie Canter birdied three of the first five holes to reach 1-under for the tournament, eight adrift of Zalatoris.
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 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.
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.
Published in Dawn, May 22nd, 2022