Tiger Woods is almost certain to miss out on next week’s WGC-Bridgestone Invitational after his hopes of ending a two-year title drought took a huge hit on day three at the Quicken Loans National.
The Virginia tournament’s host was just three shots off the lead after a superb six-under 65 on Friday, but another shocking display with the driver and some wayward iron play contributed to a 74 that left him nine shots off the pace.
Woods did well to scramble pars on each of the first seven holes as his form of the first two days deserted him, but he finally dropped a shot at the long eighth despite finding a rare fairway – pulling his second into rough and then thinning his third 50 yards over the green.
He then pulled his tee shot to the short 11th long and left into water and ran up a double-bogey five, and another poor approach at the 13th cost him a further shot, before he bounced back with a 12-foot putt for birdie at 15 and a sublime tee-shot to 16 which pitched an held six inches from the cup.
But he pulled his drive into a hazard at the last and his third finished a yard from the stands to the right of the green, from where he played an astonishing flop-shot over a bunker to three feet to limit the damage to a bogey.
Woods needed a win in his own tournament to qualify for next week’s World Golf Championship event at Firestone, where he won for the eighth time in 2013 and it remains the most recent of his 79 PGA Tour victories.
The 14-time major champion, who has plummeted to 266th in the world rankings, said afterwards: “Basically it was a fight all day. It felt like that hook was coming in and fought through it the best I could. I was hitting the ball left on the range warming up. Couldn’t quite get comfortable.
“I was waiting for the one moment, the one shot. I couldn’t find it. I grinded my butt off to be even par through seven, just hang in there the best I possibly could and I finally hit it on eight right in the middle of the fairway.
“I’ve been through rounds like this before. I figured I could hang in there and I did. At eight I could turn it around, and I went the exact opposite way.
“But at least it’s the best I ever felt with the putter, I just couldn’t get the ball on the green fast enough. I was very patient. I fought hard. I made some sweet up and downs and hit some really good shots.
“Thank God my short game is back. Now I just need to get the ball striking in there a little bit better and consistent.”