Despite an excellent performance from tee to green, Woods shot even-par 72 to remain at 2 under through three rounds on the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass.
"I played well today and didn't get anything out of it," Woods said. "It was probably the most solid I've hit the golf ball all year, probably."
Blustery conditions reigned on Saturday at Pete Dye's gem, gusting as high as 20 mph at several points in the round. Woods handled the swirling winds well, landing on 15 greens and hitting 10 of 14 fairways.
The story of Woods' round, however, was told on the greens. Woods converted just a pair of birdie opportunities, requiring 33 putts.
"I misread two putts, which was fine and I hit two other bad putts," he said. "It was just tough getting the ball close. I had a hard time, but some of the other guys probably did not."
On the front nine, Woods had no trouble hitting it close. Rather, the difficulty came in converting the opportunities his approach game created.
Woods had birdie putts from inside 17 feet on the final four holes of the side, making none. He missed on the edge from 6 feet at No. 6, three-putted from 10 feet at the seventh, could not bag another 6-footer at the par-3 eighth and failed to drop a birdie bid from 13 feet at the ninth.
The chances to score were more sparse on the second nine, despite Woods hitting every fairway and missing just the 10th green. Woods had to hit a perfect flop shot from beyond and below the green at the par-5 11th for a tap-in birdie, then made a 16-foot putt for another at the 13th after backing off his tee shot twice to figure out the wind.
Despite the lack of birdies, Woods had a pair of excellent lag putts from 78 feet at No. 14 and a putt similar to the "better than most" bid from 2001 at 17. Pars were not what Woods needed, however, and he will be left Sunday to find his first top-10 finish here since 2009.
"I figured if I shot 68 or 67, I'd be right in the ball game," he said. "There's so much danger out there. This golf course was set up today so that you could shoot 65, but then again, you could shoot something in the 80s."
Following a pair of withdrawals in this championship, perhaps the takeaway for Woods is having the health and stamina to reach the finish line. Last week, he made a confident step, changing back to metal spikes in his golf shoes.
"My knee is finally healthy enough," he said, "to take the pounding."
"Woods posts even par in third round," by Ryan Ballengee appears courtesy of Golf Channel.
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