Tiger Woods started Day 3 of The Barclays primed to make a push through the weekend. After a rather poor start, he recovered well and kept himself right in the thick of things.
He finished two under for the third round—four shots off the leaders when he went into the clubhouse.
Woods had to finish off the final four-and-a-half holes from the second round on Saturday after play was suspended as a result of darkness the day before.
Going into No. 14, Tiger had been one under for the round. He birdied No. 17 to finish with two-under 69, putting himself in a good position heading into the final two rounds after his strong four-under 67 in the first.
When shooting anything four under or lower through two rounds in 2013, Tiger had been money (h/t ESPN Stats and Info).
This is the 5th time this season Tiger Woods has shot 4-under or better in the opening round. He won each of the previous 4 times.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) August 23, 2013
That's why he came into Saturday with high expectations.
Despite friendly course and weather conditions, Woods really had a hard time throughout the front nine.
He started off well enough—a birdie on the first hole. He had a nice drive and an even better approach shot that left him within inches of the hole. It was an easy tap-in for the birdie.
After that, it went sour for Woods. He bogeyed the third and fourth holes and then followed suit on No. 7.
In those three holes, he equaled his bogey production from the first two rounds combined (h/t ESPN Stats and Info).
Tiger Woods: 3 bogeys in 1st 7 holes of 3rd round today (-4 overall); 3 bogeys in 1st 2 rounds of The Barclays combined— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) August 24, 2013
Following those stumbles, Tiger recovered on No. 8, picking up a birdie. He got himself into trouble when his approach ended up in the bunker, but luckily, his shot onto the green was superb and gave him an easy putt for the fifth shot.
He birdied the 13th hole to go back to even par for the day.
On No. 14, Woods had a great chance to continue that momentum on a par three that he had birdied back in Round 1. It wasn't to be, though, and his drive went long of the green. He had to settle for a par.
Fox Sports' Robert Lusetich thought you could see how Tiger has changed his game, as a par would have been a victory for him.
Woods put himself in a great position on the par-four No. 16, when he drove the green. He two-putted to pick up the birdie.
He concluded the day with a birdie on No. 18, which was a nice bookend for his third round. It was quite surprising the way Tiger was able to recover and put together a strong finish.
Throughout the first two days, Woods didn't look 100 percent. His back seemed problematic, but for the most part, he gritted through it and performed well.
Those back issues caught up with him in a big way on Saturday, though. On the telecast you could see Woods grimacing after some of his shots.
Golf Channel's Kelly Tilghman noted that no matter how hard he tried, Tiger couldn't overcome the pain.
Tiger Woods is having a battle with his body. And his body's winning. #chronicpains— Kelly Tilghman (@KellyTilghmanGC) August 24, 2013
Shane Bacon of Devil Ball Golf thought Woods was walking very gingerly across the course.
Tiger Woods is currently moving around the golf course like he has a really hot cup of tea balancing on his head.— Shane Bacon (@shanebacon) August 24, 2013
Golf Channel's Tiger Tracker wanted to dismiss any possibility of Woods exaggerating his back pain in order to cover up what is a poor round.
Seriously, though. Makes me laugh when people say Tiger fakes injury when not playing well. Maybe he's not playing well because he's hurt!— GC Tiger Tracker (@GCTigerTracker) August 24, 2013
Saturday was a roller-coaster for Woods. He started well with his finish to the second round and then got stuck until the end of the third round, which he finished off nicely. Given all of his difficulties throughout the day, a two-under 70 is nothing to be ashamed of.
It's hard seeing Woods playing well enough to come through on Sunday with a tournament win. He's got too much distance to make up between himself and the guys atop the leaderboard, and who knows how his back is going to hold up through 18 more holes.
If Tiger can get another round either close to par or under par, then that should be considered a success.