DUBLIN, Ohio — It was more than avoiding missing the cut for the first time in 18 appearances at the Memorial Tournament for Tiger Woods. It was also more than bouncing back from a poor performance in the second round.
Woods wanted to test his back after it gave him problems throughout Friday’s second round and also play an additional 36 holes after a five-month break from the tour.
He responded by shooting a 1-under 71 in the third round on Saturday.
“Overall I felt like I played well, controlled the ball well,” Woods said. “I hit one really bad shot there at 3, but other than that, it was a pretty good, solid day.”
Woods wouldn’t have made the cut had he not closed out the second round with two birdies and a par. He then had to wait most of the day to see whether the cut line would drop from 2-over to 3-over.
“I was fortunate the cut came back,” he said. “I made a little run at the end yesterday, and at times it was looking like it was going to be at 2, but fortunately I snuck in at 3.
Woods’ body language was drastically different throughout his round Saturday compared to Friday, when he shot a 4-over 76 after starting to deal with back issues during his warm-up.
On Saturday, there wasn’t much grimacing after hitting a shot or badly missing the fairway like on Friday. Woods was 11-of-18 on fairways hit and his 140-yard average on approach shots Saturday was his best of the tournament by 15 yards.
“I was moving better today and felt like I did the first day, and consequently I could make the passes at the golf ball like I did the first day,” Woods said. “Unfortunately I didn’t make any putts today, so hopefully I can make a few more tomorrow.”
Woods needs these 36 holes over the weekend because, if not, he would have played only 36 holes of competitive golf since February heading into the PGA Championship in San Francisco in three weeks if he chooses not to play in the 3M next week or the FedEx St. Jude Invitational in two weeks.
“Well, I think that getting back into the flow and competing again and playing at this level, I hadn’t done that in a while,” he said. “Playing home and playing out here is so very different, and making sure that I stay sharp and don’t make any silly mistakes and dump the ball in the wrong spots or give myself bad angles, that’s one of the things about playing competitive golf that’s very different from playing at home.”