Tiger Woods stuck in a rut as Honda hopes stall

Tiger Woods watches his shot off the third tee. Picture: AP
Tiger Woods watches his shot off the third tee. Picture: AP
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Instead of making a move, Tiger Woods was stuck in neutral at the Honda Classic yesterday.

Woods couldn’t find his tee shot that plugged into the bank below the par-3 17th green and eventually made double bogey. That ruined a good start and sent him to a third straight round of level-par 70 that left him in the middle of the pack.

“If you play well, you can shoot about 5 or 6-under par, there’s no doubt,” Woods said. “There are some accessible pins. The greens are perfectly smooth out there. They are not that fast, so you can be pretty aggressive.”

In the third group off, it was the perfect time to shoot a low score and try to get into contention.

Woods, however, said his momentum was slowed by mud on his ball on the tenth fairway that caused his shot to wobble toward the green and fall short in a bunker. He missed about a 10-foot par putt, backing off when he heard someone in the gallery take his picture, and muttering under his breath as he walked off the green.

He only had a few reasonable birdie chances in rest of his round and then the 17th was his undoing.

Woods stood and stared after his tee shot came up short. There was no splash, not even a ripple, and there was no signal from a marshal. He never found his ball, despite looking longer than five minutes.

A rules official gave him a ride back to the other side of the lake. Woods started to get out by the drop area until realising he had to go all the way back to the tee.

Because he didn’t find the ball, Woods couldn’t be sure where it had landed. If the ball had been inside the red hazard line, he could have gone to the drop area.

“You don’t know, and then it’s a lost ball,” he said.

He said another mud ball was the reason he hit a shot into the stands on the left of the 18th green. It landed in the seats, bounced over the first row and a fan caught it on one bounce. He waited for Woods to arrive, and then tossed it back to him. Woods hit wedge through the green and into a back bunker, the sixth time in the round he had to play out of the sand.

Last year, Woods was nine shots behind going into the final round, closed with a 62 and tied for second behind Rory McIlroy.