SAN DIEGO – It was an optimistic ending to an otherwise disappointing day. Here are a few thoughts and observations after another stroll around the South Course with Tiger Woods, who remains mired in the middle of the pack heading into the final round of the Farmers Insurance Open:
• There wasn’t much to write home about through the first few hours of Woods’ third round at Torrey Pines. With only one birdie in his first 13 holes, Woods was visibly frustrated on a difficult course. Three closing birdies helped salvage a 1-under 71, but at 5 under for the week he’s still miles behind Justin Rose and the rest of the leaders.
• Woods’ round ended on a high note: an 11-foot birdie make on No. 8 and a 6-footer for birdie on No. 9. That final birdie, his fourth of the day, marked the first time he was under par on the round.
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• The frustrations were two-fold for Woods on Saturday: misjudged and misplaced irons, particularly on No. 1 where he made a sloppy bogey from the fairway, as well as an inability to hole putts of consequence. When he three-putted for bogey on No. 3, Woods was 2 over on the day and near the bottom of the standings before finally lifting the lid down the stretch. “I’ve got to play a little better than I have,” he said. “If I can drive it like I did today and hit my irons a little better, I’ll have plenty of looks. It’s frustrating because I’m hitting a lot of good putts and they’re just not going in.”
• The final stat line from the third round: 10 of 14 fairways and 14 of 18 greens in regulation, both high-water marks for the week, to go along with 31 putts.
• Woods lamented the fact that he had a strong warmup session before his early-morning tee time, but he wasn’t able to translate those swings to the course. “I don’t feel bad over the shots, it’s just through impact it’s not as clean as I’d like,” he said. “I just didn’t quite have it with my iron game again.”
• With any chances of an eighth Farmers title out the window, the goal for Woods is to build momentum for his next start at the Genesis Open. The line in the sand he has drawn for himself in the final round is 10 under, which would require a closing 67. “If I can get it into double digits (under par), it would be nice,” he said. “It’s not too much to ask if I play well.”
• Woods will next tee it up in Los Angeles in three weeks, at an event that benefits his TGR Foundation. But when asked about his plans after that, Woods confirmed that he remained undecided about whether he’ll make his first trip to the WGC-Mexico Championship the week after Riviera.