Tiger Woods is visibly struggling as we move into the weekend at the Masters, and it led to a lapse in concentration that we've never seen from the GOAT. Alex Perry wraps up day three from Augusta
Hello. Well, this is why you shouldn’t always listen to me. Just when we thought Scottie Scheffler had sucked the life out of this year’s Masters with his machine-like ability to get the job done, Cam Smith shoots a round-of-the-day 68 to chop the World No 1’s lead from five to three. But you’re all here to read about Tiger Woods, aren’t you?
It’s becoming more and more clear as the week goes on that this isn’t going to be a one-off, either. Whether he will take on the PGA Championship in five and a half weeks remains to be seen, or, indeed, the US Open just shy of a month after that. But he told the world back in December that he plans to be at the 150th Open at St Andrews – the scene of two of his three Claret Jug wins – and you can put your mortgage on the fact we’ll see him on British soil again as early as July.
Woods’ performance on Thursday was mind-blowing, to continue that into Friday and make the cut was nothing short of a miracle. He’s made it to the weekend of every Masters he’s played as a professional.
Saturday, though, it was clear he was lacking match fitness. The limp was more pronounced, and he clearly wasn’t comfortable. That is by no means a criticism – he almost lost a leg a little more than a year ago, for crying out loud. It’s more that it’s almost surreal to be reminded that he is, indeed, human.
Notably, and perhaps most surprisingly, he was struggling with the flatstick. His third-round 78 included six three putts and one four putt.
In terms of the latter, he’s never done that before at Augusta.
At the par-4 5th, Woods one-handed his approach and left himself a 65-foot putt. He rolled that to a respectable six feet, but when that crept by he was left rueing a bogey. Instead, his three-footer horseshoed out and it was a first four putt in this event for the 15-time major champion.
Because I know you like numbers – it was the 1,661st hole Woods had played in the Masters.
One thousand, six hundred and sixty one holes. One four putt. Remarkable.
“I don’t think I’ve ever had a day like that on the greens before,” Woods said afterwards.
“Today was not a good day, but I’d like to come out tomorrow and end on a positive by shooting something in the 60s.”
Would you bet against him? Don’t ever bet against him.
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In his post-round interview, Tiger Woods said he had been discussing Scottie Scheffler with caddie Joe LaCava during the round. Most notably, the similarities between Scheffler and Fred Couples, the champion here 30 years ago.
Incidentally, Couples began that year winning at Riviera at Bay Hill to move to World No 1 for the first time before slipping into golf’s most famous item of clothing.
The eagle has landed (again)
On the first hole of the final day in 2011, Charl Schwartzel holed out from the middle of the fairway. He went on to birdie the final four holes to snatch the Green Jacket that looked destined for Down Under.
And he was up to his old tricks again on Saturday when he did this…
It’s a funny old game, this. Schwartzel had missed six cuts in a row before this week, now he’s in the fight for second on the grandest of stages.
Finau faux pas
Presented without comment is Tony Finau’s choice of outfit for day three.
Pray for Bo
Shane Lowry is another player enjoying himself in Georgia this week. The 2019 Open champion was keeping himself within touching distance of our runaway leader when a couple of sloppy bogeys on the back nine all but ended any slim hopes.
And there was a rather unpleasant moment when Lowry misjudged an approach and decided to take it out on his caddie, Brian ‘Bo’ Martin.
“Left myself no shot,” he fumed. “What a f****** s*** lay-up that was. Well done. Well done Bo. Only 30 yards out. Well done.”
Dude, you hit the shots.
Bizarrely, Augusta National released the prize money during the tournament. And it will come to no surprise that it’s the biggest purse in the tournament’s history.
Right. That’s enough for today. Enjoy the final day, folks. Here are the tee times, if that’s what you’re after.
And if Scheffler has made it all a bit dull, you could always head over to our dedicated Masters website and read some of our lovely features.