Published 7:48 PM EDT Sep 8, 2018
NEWTOWN SQUARE, Pa. – Tiger Woods shot 4-under-par 66 in Saturday’s third round of the BMW Championship at Aronimink Golf Club.
He was a powerful and intimidating tee-to-green machine, missing just four fairways and two greens in regulation.
He didn’t make a bogey.
And he wasn’t happy.
After revving up his scorecard with two birdies out of the gate, exactly the start he needed to get after the leaders, Woods downshifted into idle and needed his caddie, Joe LaCava, to get in his ear to keep him from blowing a gasket.
Woods knew he needed to make a bunch of birdies to make headway in the third leg of the FedExCup Playoffs, especially after overnight rains dumped more than 2 inches on Aronimink and turned this historic, usually rough track into a pushover. But after he walked off the tee box at the third hole, it became another one of those days that have marked his comeback season. One of those days where he played a lot better than the score indicated.
Yes, even when he shot 66.
“Today was one of those days where it was really frustrating because I hit the ball well enough to shoot a low score,” said Woods, and by that he meant posting a 61, 62 or 63. “I got off to a quick start, birdieing the first two, and Joey was in my ear to stay patient out there because I was getting a little hot.”
Tiger tracker: Woods stays in contention during third round at BMW Championship
Unfortunately, he never got his putter going. While almost everyone else in the field was peppering the scoreboards with red numbers, Woods made 11 consecutive pars after his opening two birdies despite constantly putting himself in good positions to score. He made two birdies in his last five holes but kept thinking about that 11-hole par stretch that ruined his day.
He hit good putts, starting them on the proper lines and feeling confident with each stroke, only to see them do everything but go in. He burned edges on the left side of the hole, burned edges on the right. His most frustrating miss came on the par-5 ninth when his putt from 9 feet resulted in a dreaded horseshoe.
“Probably like at least five, six that I hit that I thought about stepping,” toward the hole to get the ball, Woods said.
Now Woods will have to step on it if he is to win for the first time since 2013. After starting the day five strokes behind the leaders, he ended the day five strokes behind Justin Rose, who sits atop the leaderboard at 17 under following rounds of 66-63-64.
And there’s a whole lot of talent between Woods and his 80th PGA Tour title, including Rory McIlroy (62-69-63) and Xander Schauffele at 16 under (63-64-67), and Tommy Fleetwood (71-62-62) and Rickie Fowler (65-65-65) at 15 under. At 14 under is Keegan Bradley (66-64-66) and four others at 13 under, including defending FedExCup champion Justin Thomas (64-67-66). Among those at 12 under with Woods are reigning Masters champion Patrick Reed (69-65-64) and reigning Players champion Webb Simpson (66-67-65).
But the biggest obstacle could be the weather. With the forecast calling for rain beginning at 3 a.m. Sunday and not ending until 11 p.m. Sunday, tee times have been moved up and will begin at 7 a.m. Sunday.
If they do play, every green will be a dartboard. If they play, Woods will need to continue his remarkable play from tee-to-green. If they do play, he will need one of those days where the good putts drop.
“I'm going to have to shoot one of those 61s or 62s just to have a chance,” Woods said. “The golf course is soft. Everyone is making birdies. You can be aggressive. I got to take a run at it, whether it's tomorrow or Monday.”