LOS ANGELES – Well that was one of the more discouraging rounds he’s played in some time. Putting to bed Tiger Woods’ Saturday 76 at the Genesis before an early tee time on Sunday:
• There’s only one place to start – with that four-putt at 13, his fourth hole of the day. After missing his birdie try out to the left, Woods got careless with a 2-footer for par and slammed it by the hole. When he proceeded to miss the 3-footer coming back, he was left to clean up for double bogey. Four putts, from an original 18 feet.
• And the round went straight downhill from there. He immediately proceeded to three-putt from the apron at 14, taking seven swipes with the putter in just two holes. Following another dropped shot at 16 and a three-putt par at 17, Woods made the turn in 5-over 41, with 19 official putts (really, 20).
• Give the guy credit, he scratched it out on the front side and came to the par-4 ninth 1 under on his second nine. But the round ended the only way it could have. Faced with a 12-footer for a closing birdie, Tiger slammed the first attempt 4 feet by and – you guessed it – missed the par save coming back for one last three-putt.
• So just how bad was it? With 33 official putts in the third round, Woods is 67th out of 68 players left in the field in strokes gained: putting. Only Jason Dufner lost more strokes to the field on the greens than Woods, who was a negative-4.88 on Saturday and is minus-5.62 for the week.
• I was honestly shocked he decided to talk after the round. Asked for any sort of positive to take away from his performance, Woods quipped: “Well, I’m done.”
• As for why he’s skipping the WGC-Mexico, Woods conceded that he’s “a little rundown.” He also admitted that his body was indeed stiff, which is going to happen when he goes off early in cooler weather. That might well be why we saw so many of his iron shots come up a full club short Saturday. As for what’s next, Woods was in no hurry to commit to the Arnold Palmer or any other event. He merely said that he’s listening to his body and that his plan is – obviously – to peak for his green-jacket defense at Augusta.
• One other thought on the way out: Woods was having issues with neck stiffness around this same time last year – during the Genesis and WGC-Mexico. The tightness that started in L.A. got worse in Mexico City and he ended up withdrawing from the API, an event he’s won eight times. It’s easy to connect the dots.
• Alright, it’ll be one more loop around Riviera for the tournament host and then he can get away from this place for another year and go rest up for some venues that have suited him much better over the years.