There was no third round 65 in the cards for Tiger Woods at this year’s Players Championship like there was last year, but as is almost always the case with Woods, there were plenty of wild, interesting moments as he shot one of the more interesting even-par 72s I’ve seen in a while.

Let’s take a detailed look at Woods’s Saturday 72 as he slips further and further away from a third career Players Championship victory.

Front nine (3-over 39): It was probably the ugliest nine holes Woods played all week. He needed 17 putts to work his way through the front nine on the course in nearly 40 strokes (gulp) and lost three strokes to the field with that flat stick. It was as if all the momentum that had been ginned up over the first 36 holes collapsed on itself as Tiger made just a single putt over 3 feet. It ended unceremoniously on the par-5 ninth. Woods hit a nice wedge from 89 yards to 9 feet but never saw it because either dirt or grass flew in his eye. Then he power-lipped the putt and walked off with five more of his 39 strokes on the front.

Back nine (3-under 33): Grind harder, Tiger! Big Cat made birdies at Nos. 12, 16 and 17 to flip his score around and make it respectable. The most fun one was on No. 17 (more on that below), but I was generally impressed by the close. With the tournament nearly officially out of reach, Woods closed like he was in the middle of it on a Sunday and even got up and down from a rough spot on No. 18 to keep his score right at even par. 

What went well: He hit it great again for the second straight day. Woods gained over two strokes on the field from tee to green, but I’m not sure he could have putted it in the water surrounding the island green if he’d been given a bucket of balls and an hour to do it. 

What went poorly: Woods took 31 putts to play TPC Sawgrass on Saturday, and 17 of them came on the front nine. He made just 45 feet of putts for the round and a single putt longer than 4 feet on the day. It’s hard to overstate how difficult this is to do!

Moment of the day: Neither Woods nor playing partner Kevin Na made a birdie for the first 10 holes before Na finally grabbed one at the 11th and Woods did the same at the 12th. Then they got going a little bit with a collection of birdies and an eagle that culminated on the 17th green. Na raced after his birdie make, which made Tiger laugh, and then Tiger did the same on his short birdie putt. They had a nice chuckle about their dueling birdies and traipsed off to the 18th to finish up their rounds. All of this came just one day after Tiger made a seven on this hole.

Where he stands: At 3 under on the week following a 70-71-72 start, Woods was just outside the top 40 at the time he finished his round. The disappointment here is that the course was yielding scores, especially at the time he was playing. The field average at the time Tiger finished up was right at 71.5, and he was obviously over that (and nearly well over it).

What’s next: Woods will again have a mid-morning or early morning tee time on Sunday. With another tournament title out of reach, he’ll both be getting in legitimate reps for Augusta National (which is in a month) and be aggressively trying to post a number to get as high on the leaderboard as possible. In other words, it should be a really fun finale after a pretty mediocre week overall for Woods. 

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