If you’re looking for signs that the old Tiger Woods is close to returning, you need to look no further than his post-round walk and media availability on Saturday at the Memorial Tournament.
An on-the-surface 4-under par 68 could be looked at as another step in the right direction, but for the second consecutive day, Woods failed to take advantage of all of his scoring opportunities and saw late-round par saves slip by the hole, leaving him seething as he signed his scorecard and spoke to assembled media.
“I shot 68 today but, again, that’s probably the highest score I could have possibly shot today,” Woods said. “I played really, really well. I played beautifully, actually. Had total control of what I was doing out there and just didn’t finish it off.
“I am definitely not taking advantage of how well I’m hitting it. I could have easily shot 62 or 63 yesterday and could have easily shot 63 or 64 without doing much today. I hit the ball well enough to, shooting in the low 60s could have been pretty easy if I had just had putted normally.”
Yesterday Tiger missed putts of 5’9″, 5’6″, 5’3″, 4’4″, and 3’2″
— Michael Collins (@ESPNCaddie) June 2, 2018
According to the statistics, had Woods have putted “normally” — the field average according to strokes gained: putting — he would be 5.657 strokes better than he is, or 14-under par and in a tie for the lead. It’s that balky putting that has placed Woods on the practice putting green at Muirfield Village each of the last three nights.
Woods missed five putts from inside 7 feet on Friday and three putts from inside 7 feet in his last five holes on Saturday, which included two three-putt bogeys on 16 and 18.
Given how well Tiger is hitting the ball, he is a solid putter away from leading the tournament, which would lend itself to an obvious answer to the question of “Do you feel your game’s good enough to win right now?” Tiger was not pleased by the question.
So far, 33 rds of golf in 2018 for Tiger — and 33 media sessions after. Most agitated he's gotten was today when asked if his game is good to win now: "I was 11 under par, wasted a bunch of shots last 2 days, 4 over par in the first round. So you do the math.''
— Bob Harig (@BobHarig) June 2, 2018
“Well, I was at 11-under par, and I had wasted a bunch of shots the last two days and I was 4-over par in the first round, so you do the math,” he said.
Woods enters Sunday five shots back of the 54-hole leader Bryson DeChambeau. Despite being a Tour winner and having the look of a long-tenured pro, DeChambeau holds his first 54-hole lead. He will have to hold off Woods, who is five shots back, Justin Rose, who is four shots back, Byeung-hun An, who is two shots back and the group of Patrick Cantlay, Joaquin Niemann and Kyle Stanley, who are all one shot back.
For what it’s worth, Woods’ last two wins at Memorial came from four strokes off the lead heading into Sunday. Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee thinks Woods has “a very good” chance to get his first win in five years on Sunday.