Top seeds stumble at Oak Hill

Top seeds Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson struggle in the third round of the PGA Championships.

    Top seeds stumble at Oak Hill
    Woods endured his second-worst 72-hole pro finish in a major in the third round [AFP]

    World number one Tiger Woods and second-ranked Phil Mickelson stumbled across Oak Hill on Saturday in the third round of the PGA Championship, dooming dreams of a major title fightback.

    Woods, a 14-time major champion chasing the record 18 major titles won by Jack Nicklaus, fired a three-over par 73 to stand on four-over 214 while Mickelson matched his worst of 81 PGA Championship rounds with a 78.
    "It was hard for me. I didn't play very well," Woods said.

    "I didn't hit it very good, didn't make anything, kept blocking every putt. So it was a tough
    day."

    Poor start

    Woods, who has not won a major since the 2008 US Open, made bogeys at the first and third holes, birdied the par-3 11th but then made bogeys at 16 and 17 and needed a 10-foot putt to save par at the 18th.

    "I didn't start off very good and I didn't finish very good," Woods said.

    "In the middle part I was grinding just to kind of hang in there around par."It's just one of those weeks where I didn't quite hit it well enough and didn't make enough putts."

    A week after taking his fifth title of the year at a World Golf Championship event, Woods spent plenty of time in the thick rough on a course where he endured his second-worst 72-hole pro finish in a major, a share of 39th at the 2003 PGA Championship.

    "It's a fantastic golf course," Woods said. "Unfortunately I just haven't put it together at the right time.

    "That's golf. We don't play well every week. Unfortunately I happened to get that this week."

    While he has shined in regular PGA Tour events, Woods has struggled in the majors, a shadow of the once-mighty form that saw him dominate golf's Grand Slam events a decade ago.

    Woods had an emergency session with swing coach Sean Foley on Friday night at the driving range but it didn't show many benefits Saturday.

    "I just haven't got my takeaway right. It's off," Woods said.

    "Consequently the whole patterning is off. Just one of those weeks where it's just a fraction off, and a fraction off on a setup like this, it's going to cost me.

    "When I do it right, I hit some sweet shots. And when I do it wrong, I'm struggling. Today for some reason I kept blocking every putt. I burned a few edges out there and it just wasn't quite right."

    In contention

    Asked if he might be pressing too hard to end his five-year major drought as he faces a 38th birthday in December in another year without a major win, Woods pointed to being in contention in half of his 18 majors since last winning.

    "Pressing it? Yeah, at times when I'm underneath the trees and I'm in bunkers and trying to get up-and-down," Woods said.

    "As far as overall game plan and the way I'm playing, I've been there in enough of these things where I've been right there in the back nine on Sunday with a chance. As far as that's concerned, no."

    As poorly as Woods played, British Open champion Mickelson played worse to stand 74th of 75 players who made the cut.

    Mickelson birdied the third hole but lipped out on a 3-foot bogey putt at the par-5 fourth and took a triple bogey 7 at seven after finding the trees and rough.

    Another bogey came at the ninth and although he answered with a birdie at the 12th, Mickelson followed with a double bogey at 14, a bogey at 15 and ended his day with back-to-back bogeys.

    SOURCE: AFP


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