ST. LOUIS — Tiger Woods shot a 4-under 66 Saturday to move himself into a tie for sixth at the PGA Championship. And he should be ticked.
Woods’ front nine charge — 4-under — came to a screeching halt on the back. Time after time he put himself in position to go lower, and time after time he let the opportunity slide by. The kicker came at the par 5 17th. Woods reached the green in two thanks to a fantastic approach shot that gave him a makeable eagle putt. But he missed the eagle. And then the birdie, settling for par that, inside, had to have felt like bogey (or worse).
“It started with the first putt, just ran it by,” Woods said after his round. “Shouldn’t have been that aggressive. It cost me.”
He had makeable (some more so than others) birdie putts at 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 17 and 18 … and missed every one. Instead of being near or at the top of the leaderboard, he finds himself four shots back of Brooks Koepka, who leads the field by two.
Being unable to score on the back nine has been a constant for Woods all week. He started his round at 4-under for the tournament. All four of those four shots under par were all gained on the first eight holes of Woods’ second round (finished Saturday morning), as well.
He had the Bellerive gallery in a frenzy late Saturday, as he moved up the leaderboard with a string of three birdies on 6, 7 and 8. The birdie at 8 moved him to within two shots of the lead at the time.
But the leaders hadn’t teed off yet. That included Koepka. The back-to-back U.S. Open winner sprinted away from the field for much of the afternoon, at one point grabbing a 5-stroke lead. He appeared on his way to running away from the field, but he found trouble on the back, stalling his round with back-to-back bogies at 14 and 15.
That only compounded the what-if sting to Tiger’s round.
Heading into the final round, Tiger Woods sits in a tie for sixth place, four strokes back. And yet it feels like a bit of a defeat. He left at least two strokes on the back nine, and an argument could be made that he could have been six better than he ended up.
“Yeah, could have been a little bit closer,” he said, “but I got a shot going into tomorrow.”
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