ST. LOUIS — A five-birdie front nine vaulted Tiger Woods up the leaderboard during the third round of the PGA Championship on Saturday at Bellerive, but his momentum stalled on the back nine.
Woods made the turn in four-under 31, which put him just two strokes off the lead, but he made all pars on the back nine and signed for a four-under 66. Still, he’s in the mix come Sunday. He’s eight under for the tournament and in a tie for 6th, four back of leader Brooks Koepka (12 under).
“Tomorrow, not just myself, but everyone’s going to have to shoot low rounds,” Woods said. “Its soft, it’s gettable and you can’t just go out there and make a bunch of pars, you’re going to have to make some birdies.”
Woods hit his first shot at 7 a.m. Saturday as he finished the final 10 1/2 holes of his second round — Friday’s play was suspended due to weather — and shot 66. After a short break, Woods came out on fire to begin his third round. He made a 17-footer for birdie on the 1st and then stuffed an approach to five feet on the 2nd, making his second consecutive birdie.
A missed fairway at the 5th didn’t allow him to stop his approach close to the pin, and it rolled out to 58 feet. That led to a three-putt bogey as he missed his six-footer for par to the left.
But Woods rebounded in a big way, rattling off birdies on the 6th, 7th and 8th.
On the par-3 6th he rolled in a putt from 11 feet, and on 7 he dropped his approach close and made a seven-footer for birdie. He added his third straight birdie when he made a seven-footer on the par-5 8th.
After a par on the 9th, Woods got up and down for par from 84 yards on the 10th, but he couldn’t get anything to fall afterward. His missed birdie putts of 10, 15, 12, 8 and 20 feet, respectively, on Nos. 11-15.
He had another birdie try on the par-3 16th, this one from 40 feet, and he gave it a good roll but left it a few rotations short of the cup.
On 17, one of the two par-5s on the course, Woods failed to take advantage. He hit a 303-yard drive followed by a pure four-iron from 243 yards, finding the green and giving him a 20-footer for eagle, which would have moved him to solo second. He hit the putt with plenty of pace but ran it by the right edge of the cup. Woods then lipped out a four-footer for birdie, giving him an agonizingly disappointing par, his ninth straight.
“I left pretty much every single putt short on the back nine,” Woods said. “The greens were getting fuzzy, they’re getting slow, and I didn’t hit the putts quite hard enough. And I made sure on 17 I did. And I blew it by about four feet and then pulled the next one.”
Woods closed his round with a big drive and wedge shot to 15 feet on the 18th, but again two-putted for par.
Adam Scott is in second at 10 under, two off the lead and in the final pairing with Koepka. Jon Rahm, Rickie Fowler and Gary Woodland are tied at nine under, and Woods is among a group of six at eight under, which includes Jason Day and defending champion Justin Thomas.