(Reuters) – A troublesome start dominated by bogeys proved costly for Tiger Woods as he struggled to a three-over par 75 in the third round of the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas on Saturday.
After two strong rounds put the former world number one in contention for his first win since 2013, Woods recorded four of his five bogeys in the first seven holes to slip to 10th at four-under 212, 10 strokes behind leader Charley Hoffman.
Woods, in his first tournament in nearly 10 months following spinal fusion surgery, said he had some bad breaks on Saturday and that his game was better than his scorecard suggested.
“Anything I did right ended up in a bad spot, then everything I did wrong, it was really bad,” Woods told NBC television.
“I’ve got to keep fighting and that is one thing I have always done in my entire career. That’s keep fighting and try and post the best number I possibly could.
“I really didn’t feel I was that far off. That’s the crazy part … I just ended up in bad spots after good shots.”
Only in the closing five holes, where Woods twice had birdies and narrowly missed a third at the last, did the 41-year-old show he could again be a factor at the elite 18-man event that features eight of the world’s top 10.
“It feels good to be out here fighting again,” he said. “I’ve missed the fight and getting out there and competing, fighting against the golf course and the guys.
“It’s so much fun.”
Breezy conditions made sub-par rounds difficult at the Albany course with overnight leader Hoffman one of the few to deliver, surging to a five-stroke lead after a birdie at 18 for a two-under 70 and a 202 total.
Jordan Spieth (72) and England’s Justin Rose (71) were tied for second at nine-under 207, one stroke ahead of Italy’s Francesco Molinari (71).
The troubles for Woods started early on Saturday as he took bogeys at the first and third holes before further miscues at six and seven saw him post a four-over 40 for the front nine.
That contrasted sharply with Friday when he took nine shots less to finish the front nine.
“The shot that really threw me for a loop was the shot at three,” Woods said. “I hit the most beautiful three wood that went 300 yards in the wind.”
But he wound up with a bogey.
Woods finally picked up a shot at the 14th, doffing his hat to the crowd in relief, before carding another birdie at the par-three 17th.
“It’s ridiculous,” he said. “It took me 14 holes to make a birdie. At that time I had already played four par-fives and nothing happened.”
(Reporting by Gene Cherry in Salvo, North Carolina; Editing by Christian Radnedge/Peter Rutherford)