Tiger Woods blames himself, not his new putter, for his woes on the greens this week. (Getty Images)
Tricky green speeds keeping Woods from speeding up leaderboard
After struggling to a second straight 73 Saturday, which included three three-putts, leaves Tiger Woods a dozen shots off the pace. What he needs, he says, is to find the speed of the greens – and maybe a miracle, too – as speedily as possible.
By Melanie Hauser, PGATOUR.COM Correspondent
ST. ANDREWS, Scotland -- Three three-putts.
Two back-to-back at 13 and 14. A final one at 18 -- after he drove the green for the second day.
So much for the new Method putter? Tiger Woods said no. He just needs to get the speed on the greens.
A second 73 to go with his opening 67. A 3-under 213. A spot just far enough back of the leaders -- 12 behind third-round pacesetter Louis Oosthuizen -- that he needs major help to contend for the 150th Anniversary Open Sunday afternoon.
“I hit it good today,” he said. “I mean, I striped it all day. I just didn’t get anything out of the round. I couldn’t build any momentum, wasn’t making any putts today, and once I got it going just a little bit, I thought, I had back‑to‑back three‑putts at 13 and 14.
“I made a lot of putts the first day,” he added. “Yesterday obviously with the wind, I don’t think anyone made a whole lot of putts. But today, today was -- ball is oscillating a little bit, but it was a little bit calmer than it was yesterday, and certainly should have had better speed than I did today.”
Sense the frustration? Take it a step farther. Woods owned this course at the Opens in 2000 and 2005. He made 22 birdies and three bogeys in 2000; 21 birdies and seven bogeys in ’05. This week? Try 12 birdies and nine bogeys through the first three holes.
“I’m playing well,” he said. “I’m playing better than obviously my position. I certainly have had a lot more putts on the greens than I ever have, and that’s something that has basically kept me out of being in the final few groups.”
And, there have been blips like Saturday at the fifth hole, where he’s down the middle off the tee and bogeys a par 5.
“It’s just one of those things where I stripe it right down the middle and I’ve got this slope I’ve got to deal with,” he said. “I thought I could get a 3‑wood into the ball and from there I can two‑putt from down at the base of the bowl. I hit a 3‑wood. Started it probably about 40 yards left of the green and ended up in the right gorse. A little bit of wind.”
At 17, he found the wall at the Road Hole. Another bogey.
And the par 5s? He’s played them just 1 under in the first three days.
“It’s just one of those things where you just have to be patient,” he said. “I was grinding, I was as patient as I possibly could be today, and I was just trying to plod my way along and just didn’t get anything going.”
Now, he’s got just 18 holes left to find the speed and, perhaps, a miracle. So much -- the weather, Oosthuizen and Paul Casey, to name a few things -- is out of his control.
“You just don’t know what the weather is going to do,” Woods said. “As Louis had it yesterday, he played 16 out of 18 holes downwind. You need to have things like that happen, and hopefully tomorrow things like that will happen and I can get some kind of momentum going early.”