Tiger Woods shoots 85 for worst round of PGA Tour career

ByBob Harig ESPN logo
Saturday, June 6, 2015

DUBLIN, Ohio -- The slow, steady progress that Tiger Woods said he has been making with his golf game came to a sudden, ugly halt on Saturday at Muirfield Village Golf Club.

At the place where he has won five times, Woods shot a career-worst 85, including a quadruple-bogey 8 on the 18th hole.

He made just one birdie and dropped to last place in the Memorial Tournament, six strokes behind the next-lowest player in the field,Lucas Glover.

Justin Rose shot a 6-under 66 on Saturday that gave him a three-shot lead and put him 27 strokes ahead of Woods.

"Obviously that's a tough round to swallow,'' said Rose, the 2013 U.S. Open champion who works with Sean Foley, Woods' former coach. "You can't really blame the weather or this or that. It's a course he's played well on. I'm not sure I have any advice really at this point. That's just a tough round to swallow, really.''

Because there are just 71 players, Woods will play alone, first off, on Sunday morning.

Woods declined to speak with reporters afterward.

This was the second time this year he has shot in the 80s, but just the third time overall in a professional career that dates to 1996.

He shot 81 during the third round of the 2002 Open Championship at Muirfield in Scotland, where the weather was horrendous.

Woods also shot an 82 in January during the second round of the Waste Management Phoenix Open, where he endured horrific chipping problems that 10 days later prompted him to take a nine-week break from the game.

There are many comparisons made between Woods, 39, and Jack Nicklaus, the Memorial Tournament host and 18-time major champion, but few of the dubious variety.

Nicklaus, 75, had 16 scores in the 80s as a pro, with six of those coming before he turned 40. His highest score was an 85 at the 2003 Masters, when the Golden Bear was 63. His highest scores before turning 40 were a pair of 82s at the 1976 Pebble Beach Pro-am and the 1979 Players Championship at Sawgrass Country Club.

In 2015, Woods has 17 completed rounds, with two scores in the 80s and only three in the 60s.

His 85 on Saturday included a career-first of 40 or worse for both nines. Woods shot 42-43. Through seven holes, he was 2 over par and played the remaining 11 holes 11-over.

"When you're not playing that much and you don't have confidence to start with it just multiplies," Nicklaus said.

Woods had a quad, two doubles, six bogeys and one birdie.

"He's just kind of working through some things, obviously it takes some time to work through some swing changes and stuff like that," said PGA Tour rookie Zac Blair, who listed Woods as part of his dream foursome and who met him for the first time Saturday -- and beat him by 15 shots.

"He's the best player to ever play, in my opinion. He'll get back to playing good."

When Blair saw that he would be playing with Woods, he said, "It was like the coolest thing ever."

But Woods gave him very little to remember. Unlike Friday, when he putted beautifully before a late stumble nearly cost him making the 36-hole cut, Woods struggled on the greens with 32 putts -- 8 more than Friday. He missed five putts inside 5 feet on the front nine alone.

Although he hit seven fairways -- the most of the week -- Woods was poor with his irons. His strokes gained tee to green stat was the worst in the field.

Woods is playing just his fifth tournament of the year, having taken a nine-week break to work on his game prior to the Masters. He had a promising tie for 17th at Augusta National, with two rounds in the 60s to put him in fifth place going into the final round.

But in the two ensuing months, Woods has entered just two tournaments. He admitted he needs more competition, and that will pick up now as he plays every other week through the PGA Championship in August. His next start is scheduled to be the U.S. Open, which begins on June 18.

His switch to instructor Chris Como last October would also seem to be in question at this point, but Woods has been through swing changes before and has endured long bouts of up-and-down play while trying to adjust.

"Tiger's running from teacher to teacher," Nicklaus said on the CBS broadcast. "He needs to go back and review some of his own things rather than listen to someone else."

Although he clearly didn't have 85 in mind, Woods seemed resigned to the difficulties in his Thursday remarks.

"I'm staying committed to what we're working on," he said. "And I've gone through phases like this, rounds like this before in the past where, yeah, it's easy to revert back and go ahead and hit some old pattern, but it doesn't do you any good going forward.

"And I've done it, sometimes it's taken me about a year and then it kicked in and I did pretty good after that. And subsequent years went down the road, I did the same thing.

"Got to suck it up. If you believe in it, do it. And eventually it will start turning, and when it turns, I've had periods where I've played good for four or five years, where I've won close to 20 tournaments in that stretch."

A 14-time major winner, Woods won the last of his 79 PGA Tour titles a few hours away in Akron at the 2013 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. That was his fifth victory of a player of the year season.

Since then, he has just three top-10s in 20 worldwide starts, with three withdrawals and three missed cuts.

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