CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – The idea of Tiger Woods as a major tournament threat that flickered over and over again in the Gulf fantasy, though also spent much of this decade resting, returned fiercely on Saturday as Woods' name appeared on the British Open Leaderboard . He had spent a third round in peaceful conditions on the North Sea, making a steep, fast climb.
By boglied six of his first 14 holes while not bogging, Woods was off the straight level and a tight tie for 29th place in, temporarily, a draw at his first Open Championship appearance since 2015. When he was with a crowd pleaser, 5 under par 66, it marked its lowest number in a major tournament since the 2011 Masters (before 60 rounds) and its lowest on a weekend since the 2010 US Open (before 29 rounds). Suddenly, a board glittering with Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy, Tommy Fleetwood, Zach Johnson and, for a while, Rickie Fowler had the name "Woods".
Until then, it looked like the big thing was just bragging
"I played well today," Woods said. "I really, really." At 42, 15 months after a fusion spinal surgery, he credited him with rehabilitation, saying, "It's been several years since I felt that way."
Only at the Par-3 16th hole, when Woods' fine tee hit some unsentimental luck and rudely rolled to the right and out of the green, he found his first bogey. "I did not hit a bad shot until around 18," said Woods, who was fortunately repaid with his drive on the last one to land on the stone wall of the notorious Barry Burn and then stayed dry.
From there, next to the Standing fire, Woods played conservatively on the right path, then struck splendidly over another part of the writhing fire and in rescue distance from the hole, closing with a fine par save. "That was great for me, just so as not to end two bogeys in the last three holes, [after] playing as well as I did," he said.
When Woods was done, he finished in five laps under three, the leader in the clubhouse and two shots behind the running scores of rising Americans Xander Schauffele and Kevin Kisner, and a shot behind a cluster that included Spieth. Many competitors remained in their front ninths, suggesting that Woods' position may continue to fall in the face of the clear air.
Woods claimed he had not noticed that he spent about 20 minutes on the board. He said that he had begun the day knowing that some or more golfers could keep moving forward, and he ended the day hoping none of those under 10 would go under par. "At least I know I'll be there with a chance," he speculated. "It will not be too far out of reach."
"He's close," said Shaun Norris, the 36-year-old South African who played alongside Woods. "He's very close, I would not allow him to come back and shoot for the next few months, he's really starting to roll the ball well."
Woods only closed the par 5 holes once fourth brownte, tried the first two rounds and bob both on Saturday (# 6 and # 14). He also brooded No.s 4, 9 (with a 30-foot putt), 10, 11 (with a stress-free two-putt of 95 feet), and 14 (with another stress-free two-putt). He hit 80 percent of the fairways and 78 percent of the greens. Especially his lag – putts outperformed and he said, "I made so many good putts today."
When he finished and finished 18th, he played his third major this season after missing eight in a round. The man who has won 14 major titles but has not looked since 2008 saw With him, the imagination went to the brink, as if a reporter asked what a 15th title could mean Burden and bustle and surgery since the 14th, the 2008 US Open in Torrey Pines in San Diego was.
"We are not here yet," Woods said. "I know what you're trying to say, but let me try first, then ask me again."