Tiger remains stalled, leaders pull away in third round of Masters

Credit: Curtis Compton / curtis.compton@ajc.com

Credit: Curtis Compton / curtis.compton@ajc.com

AUGUSTA – Tiger Woods began the day where he started.

On Moving Day at the Masters, that’s not good.

The defending and five-time champion shot an even-par 72 in the third round Saturday to remain at 5 under par for the tournament. It was the culmination of a 26-hole day as Woods had to finish his second round before returning to the course.

Woods was four strokes off the lead at the end of the second round – trailing Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Cameron Smith and Abraham Ancer and in a tie for 17th. By the end of the day Saturday, Woods was 11 strokes behind the leader Johnson and tied for 20th.

That much work on the course, and the 44-year-old Woods' ailing back announced its presence.

“These are long days,” Woods said. “I had my day off yesterday, which was nice. Today was not the case. We’ve been at it for quite some time. Yeah, it’s just part of the deal. If you have long days like this, I’m going to get a little bit sore, which I definitely am.”

ExploreAJC photos from the third round

Woods fell to 3 under for the tournament with bogeys at Nos. 8 and 11.

Woods drove into the trees to the left of the fairway at the par-5 8th. He chipped out to short right of the green, and his approached found the green some 52 feet from the cup. He putted to nine feet and then ran his par putt four feet past the hole before making the comebacker.

On the par-4 11th, Woods left a 189-yard approach shot right of the green. He putted, but the attempt ran 14 feet past the cup. He just missed the comebacker and tapped in for bogey.

Wood came home with birdies at Nos. 12 and 15 to get back where he started.

Woods' tee shot at the par-3 12th landed nine feet below the hole, and he made the putt to get a stroke back.

On the par-5 15th, Woods hit the green in two and two-putted from 18 feet.

“I can walk all day,” Woods said. “The hard part is bending and twisting. I think that’s part of the game, though, and so that’s always been the challenge with my back issues, and I guess will always continue to be.”

Almost certainly out of contention, Woods finally will have to give back the green jacket he won last year after a possession of 19 months. In the past 30 years, no one has won the Masters having come from outside the top five going into the final round. In 1989, Nick Faldo entered the final round tied for seventh and defeated Scott Hoch in a playoff.

“It’s been incredible to have the jacket and to have it around the house and to share with people,” Woods said before the tournament started. “… I may never have the opportunity to take the jacket off property again.”

This is the 25th anniversary of his first appearance at the Masters. Woods said he has not thought about the emotions he may experience when presenting another with the grand prize and returning his green jacket to Augusta National for safe keeping.

“We’ll see how emotional it’ll be after tomorrow’s round,” Woods said.

Credit: Curtis Compton / curtis.compton@ajc.com

Credit: Curtis Compton / curtis.compton@ajc.com