There will be no repeat fairytale for Tiger Woods at Pebble Beach after he drifted out of contention in the third round at the US Open on Saturday.
Nineteen years after his record 15-stroke blowout at the most famous US Open venue, Woods has not been able to replicate the performance or come remotely close to it.
The Masters champion will start Sunday’s final round equal 27th, a distant 11 strokes behind leader Gary Woodland, a member of the supporting cast rather than the main man.
A five birdie, five bogeys, even-par 71 on Saturday was not exactly what the doctor ordered, though it was a respectable score that could have been worse after his awful start.
After finishing his second round with two straight bogeys on Friday, Woods dropped shots at two of his first three holes on Saturday. “I got off to a crap start .... and those are the easier holes,” said the 15-times major champion.
“And I had to try to fight back and claw out a round today, which I was able to do.”
Three late birdies, including a two-putt at the par-five 18th after he had smoked a fairway wood from 250 yards to the front of the green, left Woods forlornly clinging to a faint hope that all was not lost.
“Still gave myself a chance for tomorrow, which is positive,” he said after signing for even-par 213. He was speaking, hopefully, several hours before the leaders finished the round strongly and snuffed out any faint hope he might have had.
The 43-year-old, who underwent a spinal fusion two years ago, played down the presence of medical tape on the back of his neck on Saturday. The tape is touted to relieve pain, though the jury is out on whether it is effective.
“When it’s cold like this everything is achy,” he said. “It’s just part of the deal. It’s been like that for years. The forces have to go somewhere.
“And if they’re not in the lower back, they’re in the neck, and if not, they’re in the mid-back and if not they go to the knee. You name it. “I feel every shot I hit. I think that’s always going to be the place from here going forward.”