Woods surrenders lead with surprise collapse
An unexpected collapse by four-times champion Tiger Woods threw the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational wide open after Saturday's third round.india Updated: Aug 27, 2006 13:29 IST
An unexpected collapse by four-times champion Tiger Woods threw the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational wide open after Saturday's third round.
One ahead at the start of the day and ideally placed to push on and win his fourth consecutive PGA Tour title, the 30-year-old American dropped four shots in a row on his way to a one-over-par 71.
That left Woods tied for second at eight-under 202, a stroke behind pacesetting American Stewart Cink who fired a joint best-of-the-day 64.
Level with Woods were compatriot and playing partner Davis Love III, after a roller-coaster 70, and Briton Paul Casey (64).
Jim Furyk dropped two shots over the last three holes for a 69 to slip to fifth place at seven under, one better than fellow American Lucas Glover (69).
Woods knew he was in for a tough day on a fast-running Firestone Country Club layout after struggling in his warm-up and was astonished to finish just one off the pace.
"It's a huge positive to be only one back as poorly as I played today," the 12-times major champion told reporters after ending a run of 17 rounds at par or better.
"It was a tough day out there. I didn't really have it with my ball-striking, my putting and some of my chip shots weren't very good either.
"I figured my body took me out of the tournament and my mind will bring me back into the tournament. That's what I tried to do today."
Hunting his fifth victory at Firestone in seven starts, Woods began the day in customary fashion.
After parring the first two holes, he chipped in for birdie from behind the green at the par-four third to forge two ahead of the chasing pack at 10 under.
However, a three-putt to bogey the par-three fifth triggered the world number one's dramatic slide.
He pushed his tee shot into the right rough at the sixth before three-putting the seventh and eighth.
Out in three-over 38 and six under for the tournament, he trailed leader Love at that point by four strokes.
Love capped a blemish-free outward nine with birdies at the eighth and ninth.
He struck a superb approach to five feet at the par-four 10th to forge three clear of the chasing pack at 11 under before dropping three shots over the last seven holes.
"A lot like Tiger, I had a good streak and a bad streak and still ended up with a chance to win," Love said.
"If I can get a couple more putts to drop tomorrow, I'll be in good shape."
Woods rallied on the back nine to climb back into contention, holing an eight-footer to birdie the 13th and producing his second chip-in of the day at the 17th.
"A few things were off today," he added. "I'll do some rehearsals tonight and hopefully be good for tomorrow."
Cink, the 2004 champion, was delighted with his bogey-free display in difficult conditions at Firestone.
"I played well all the way and, when I made mistakes, I was able to save pars," the 33-year-old said after rattling up six birdies. "On this golf course, it's so tough. It feels very much like a major out there."
Due to a poor weather forecast for Sunday's final round, tee-off times have been brought forward with the leaders scheduled to start at 0930 local (1330 GMT).