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Tiger Woods had his best showing at the 2018 Northern Trust on Saturday with a three-under 68 in the third round in Paramus, New Jersey.
After posting consecutive rounds of 71, Woods needed to post a low number to get near the top of the leaderboard heading into the final day.
While things didn’t work out that way, he showed signs of improvement.
His short game let him down Friday. The 14-time major champion needed 35 putts to finish the second round, negating the fact that he hit 16 of 18 greens in regulation.
“The name of the game is you’ve got to make putts and you’ve got to roll it,” Woods told reporters after the second round. “No matter how good your drive is, you’ve still got to roll them and still got to make putts, and I didn’t putt very well today. I had a hard time seeing my lines, and consequently, I didn’t make anything.”
Saturday wasn’t a great putting day for Woods—27 over 18 holes—but it was still better than what happened 24 hours earlier. It also made all the difference in his score from Round 2 to 3.
Tiger’s best putt of the day was on No. 14 when he made his second birdie from 16 feet away:
PGA TOUR @PGATOUR
Tiger finally gets another birdie to drop.
He’s -2 on the day. https://t.co/ocNagttsf2
Per the Golf Channel’s Tiger Tracker, Woods still missed his chance to put together an even better score:
Tiger Tracker @GCTigerTracker
Well this is frustrating. Over the last three holes he’s had birdie looks from 12, 14 and 12 feet. Tiger Woods, 0 for 3 from that distance. Just stupid.
Woods made headlines in June after changing putters from a blade to a mallet. Per PGA.com’s Andy Wittry, in three of the past four tournaments he played, the 42-year-old finished 16th or higher in strokes gained via putting with totals of 4.77, 2.78 and 5.05.
His average this weekend when walking off the course was 1.21 strokes lost.
On the positive side, Woods had his first bogey-free round of the season.
There was a potentially ugly moment on the par-five 17th hole when his third shot went past the green into the rough. He got to within five feet on his next shot before salvaging par and followed with this sequence on No. 18:
PGA TOUR @PGATOUR
Closing birdie. -3 on the day.
Tiger Woods puts the finishing touches on his first bogey-free round of the season.
Woods leads the PGA Tour with a 68.42 scoring average in the third round. That average ranges from 46th to 133rd in the other three rounds.
Since this is only the first event of the FedEx Cup playoffs, Woods didn’t have to come away with a win this weekend to make these next four weeks a success. His third-round surge could be huge for his confidence after a slow start the past two days.
Stats via PGATour.com