Limping Tiger struggles to nine-over 79 at rain-hit PGA

Limping Tiger struggles to nine-over 79 at rain-hit PGA

Tiger Woods blasts a shot from the rough during Saturday's third round of the PGA Championship at rain-hit Southern Hills
Tiger Woods blasts a shot from the rough during Saturday's third round of the PGA Championship at rain-hit Southern Hills

TULSA: Tiger Woods limped his way to the third-worst major round of his career and the worst in his return from severe leg injuries, firing a nine-over par 79 in Saturday's third round of the PGA Championship.

Woods made five consecutive bogeys at a major for the first time in his career from the ninth through 13th holes and stood on 12-over 222 after 54 holes at rain-hit Southern Hills.

"I didn't do anything right," Woods said. "I didn't hit many good shots. Consequently I ended up with a pretty high score."

The 15-time major champion, who suffered severe right leg damage in a February 2021 car crash, shared next-to-last place among the 79 players who made the cut -- 21 strokes off the pace.

American Will Zalatoris, with four top-10 finishes in seven prior major starts, teed off with the lead on nine-under, one stroke ahead of playing partner Mito Pereira, a Chilean making only his second major start.

Woods struggled to his worst-ever score in 79 PGA Championship rounds and his only worse major scores were a 10-over 81 in the third round of the 2002 British Open and a 10-over 80 in the first round of the 2015 US Open.

"I just didn't play well," Woods said. "I didn't hit the ball very well and got off to not the start I needed to get off to."

Asked if he definitely would play in Sunday's final round, Woods replied, "Well, I'm sore. I know that is for a fact. We'll do some work and see how it goes."

A throng of spectators lined every hole to catch a glimpse of Woods, cheering him around the course despite his woes.

After Woods spent weeks hospitalized and months unable to walk, he recovered well enough to return only 14 months later at last month's Masters, sharing 47th and pleased to walk all 72 holes.

But a month after struggling to his worst Masters rounds with weekend 78s at Augusta National, Woods again could not follow the effort to make a cut with solid form.

Former world number one Woods, now ranked 818th, has said all week his right leg hurts after rounds with limited mobility and strength.

He requires ice baths and physical therapy between rounds to enable his right leg -- held together by rods, plates, screws and pins -- to have the strength to walk the 7,556-yard course.

Woods sank a 13-foot par putt at the first hole but found water off the second tee on the way to a bogey then lipped out a five-foot birdie putt at the fourth.

"I thought I hit a good tee shot down two and ended up in the water, and just never really got any kind of momentum on my side," Woods said.

After another tee-shot splashdown at the sixth, Woods hit into greenside rough and needed three to get down for triple bogey, then 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.

That began his run of five bogeys in a row, errant tee shots costing him time and again.

"I couldn't get off the bogey train there," Woods said.

Woods sank a 36-foot putt at the par-4 15th for his only birdie of the day and closed with three pars.

- Leaders chase 1st major -

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 6-under.

Two-time Masters champion Bubba Watson made nine birdies Friday, his most in any major round, and matched the course record with a 63 to stand fourth on 5-under and share the course record with Woods and Ray Floyd.

Four-time major winner Rory McIlroy, who opened with a par, was sharing fifth on 4-under with Mexico's Abraham Ancer.

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