(Reuters) – Tiger Woods said his back was feeling better but his game remained a little out of sorts after carding a third-round one-under 71 at the Memorial Tournament in steamy Dublin, Ohio on Saturday, leaving him 11 shots off the overnight leaders.
Competing in a PGA Tour event for the first time in five months, Woods has looked both good and bad with a second-round four-over 76 on Friday sandwiched between 71s.
A five-times champion on the Jack Nicklaus designed Muirfield Village layout, Woods said his troublesome back was an issue during a plodding second round.
Yet he complained of a general lack of competitive sharpness on Saturday as his bid for a record-breaking 83rd tour title drifted out of sight.
“I was moving better today and felt like I did the first day, and consequently I could make the passes at the golf ball like I did the first day,” Woods told reporters. Unfortunately I didn’t make any putts today.
“I think that getting back into the flow and competing again and playing at this level, I hadn’t done that in a while.
“Playing home and playing out here is so very different, and making sure that I stay sharp and don’t make any silly mistakes and dump the ball in the wrong spots or give myself bad angles, that’s one of the things about playing competitive golf that’s very different from playing at home.”
With better range of motion to his surgically repaired back, Woods mixed four birdies with three bogies on Saturday avoiding the big mistakes he made on Friday, like a double-bogey on the par-four opening hole.
“Overall I felt like I played well today, controlled the ball well. I hit one really bad shot there at three, but other than that, it was a pretty good, solid day,” said the 15-times major winner. “The golf course is right where they want it.
“Now that the wind has picked up just a touch, it’s going to dry it out a little bit more.”
Americans Ryan Palmer and Tony Finau start the day at nine-under at the top of the leaderboard, one shot clear of Spaniard Jon Rahm.
(Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto. Editing by Toby Davis)