Tiger Woods at British Open 2014: Grading Day 3 Performance at Royal Liverpool

Brendan O'Meara@@BrendanOMearaFeatured ColumnistJuly 19, 2014

Tiger Woods at British Open 2014: Grading Day 3 Performance at Royal Liverpool

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    Alastair Grant/Associated Press

    Tiger Woods had what one may call a roller-coaster day on the course.

    Then, once out of contention, it appeared Woods realized at the turn that the leaders weren’t coming back and he wasn’t making an aggressive move up the board.

    Something weird happened. Woods was laughing. He was joking with Jordan Spieth. That right there spelled the end of Woods trying to win this tournament.

    Woods seemed more in control (even his driver proved steady) despite only scoring a 73 on the day.

    Woods' said via the Golf Channel's Tiger Tracker Twitter feed, "I've still just made too many mistakes. You can't run up high scores like that and expect to contend."

    In short, Woods is rusty and it showed during this Open Championship at Royal Liverpool—especially on Friday and Saturday. Carry on for Woods’ Day 3 report card.

Driving: C+

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    Tom Pennington/Getty Images

    Woods’ driving can be summed up by his long, sad search for his Titleist in a gorse bush. The commentators said four balls were found, yet none were Woods’. How this is possible, the world may never know. He took the long, lonely walk back to the tee box.

    Woods was far better off the tee Saturday than he was Friday. Any thoughts that he may be gun shy to use his driver were quickly dispelled when he teed up on the 10th. He hit driver on 10 and 16 and hit the fairway on 10 and the first cut on 16. He didn’t spray any drivers out of bounds.

    It was his other clubs that let him down off the tee. Overall, it was a day he wanted to see end sooner rather than later.

    David Duval, analyst for ESPN 3's Woods broadcast said of Woods' driving:

    It showed itself on the tee ball. Putting the ball up in the air flattens out your swing plane a little bit. He’s delivering the club differently than with the irons and it’s seemingly a simple fix but it’s a hard thing to get out of. He’s got to get his hands lower at impact to get the head higher and that will eliminate these two-way misses.

    Woods has one more day to prove to Tom Watson, captain of the Ryder Cup team, that his performance could be worthy of a berth on the team.

Iron Play: C+

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    Tom Pennington/Getty Images

    Woods’ play started out encouraging with two birdies. His irons got him to within striking distance of makeable putts, and he drained them.

    His approaches became more sporadic as the tournament got away from him. Through three rounds, he has hit 37 of 54 greens for 68.5 percent.

    His irons off the tee weren’t sharp either. On the seventh hole he sprayed his iron tee shot into a gorse bush. He then hooked his next one way left.

    Woods simply had too few holes where nothing came together—with the exception of the first two.

    Duval noted toward the end of Woods’ round on the broadcast: "He’s just trying to work on his swing more than anything else."

Around the Greens: B-

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    Tom Pennington/Getty Images

    When Woods double-bogeyed the par-four second hole as his wedge approach fell short of the green, his ensuing putt got him to within five feet. On five, his wedge in left him with a 15-foot putt. His wedge on 16 from a solid lie only got him to eight feet.

    "I’d give that a B-minus," said Tom Weiskopf during the ESPN 3 broadcast.

    Woods did himself few favors around the greens. Any chip or long putt from the fringe left him with challenging pars and only two birdies.

    Going forward—especially at age 38—he needs to find every way to make his rounds as easy as possible. Scrambling is a young man’s game.

Putting: A-

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    Tom Pennington/Getty Images

    Woods’ putting kept this round from getting completely away from him. On the 16th hole, he drained an eight-foot putt to save par and keep him even for the tournament. He also nailed a 15-foot putt for birdie at one point.

    Then on No. 2, a hole he doubled, he missed a five-foot putt wide right to save bogey.

    Woods had five birdies on the day but was killed by two holes and is three over for the tournament.

    Bob Harig, golf writer for ESPN.com, tweeted: "A long way away on No. 9, Tiger finishes with a birdie for 73. Has now gone 18 straight weekend rounds in majors without shooting in 60s."

    ESPN 3's Weiskopf added during the broadcast, "Good shots into the pin on the green all the time breeds good putting. When you're missing greens and you’re making these putts just to save pars and you’re not making birdies, that doesn’t give you a lot of confidence."

    Going forward, Woods needs to keep his putting right where it is and hopefully his approaches come to his aid.

Course Management: C+

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    Tom Pennington/Getty Images

    There was little wind, "playing under a dome" as ESPN’s Andy North might say, and Woods attacked the early holes. He still wanted to take those shorter bunkers out of play and did so early.

    Golf Channel's Tiger Tracker noted: "TW lamented that he didn't take advantage of "benign conditions." "Most of the scores are 3 under or better, & I certainly didn't do that."

    But again, his tee shots, whether with his driver or irons, put him at a tactical disadvantage heading into the greens. It put a heightened sense of pressure to give himself a chance at birdie putts. He carded five birdies, this after only scoring one during Friday’s horrific 77.

    Weiskopf said during the ESPN 3 broadcast, "That confidence level is not there. That concentration is not there. He was very quick walking. He made quick decisions. He was not sure. That anxiety was there. He’s not quite sure."

    Looking ahead, the plan will be much the same and if he can keep his tee shots in the fairway, Woods will have a chance at shooting under par for the first time since Thursday.

Final Grade: C

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    Tom Pennington/Getty Images

    Five birdies, one double bogey, one triple bogey, one bogey. The putter picked him up and let him down in equal measures. Woods’ play off the tees slayed any chance for him to get a bigger slice of the pie.

    It was good to see Woods enjoying himself (with the exception of seven), joking with Spieth and even giving him a handshake at the end of the round.

    What's the takeaway so far? Duval added during the ESPN 3 broadcast:

    I think one of the first things is that he’s healthy and fit especially playing out of this long grass if you hit an errant drive. His body can handle it. He can also take away that his golf swing isn’t quite what he wants it to be at the moment. A few too many stray balls off the tees and he’s going to take away a greater desire to chase down No. 15. He’s finally gone through another surgery and he really wants to play on the Ryder Cup team.

    Sunday will be about taking away the positives. It’s no longer about winning; it’s about working on his swing and pretending he’s in contention without the pressure. Woods will need to string together solid holes like he did Thursday and keep his driving woes to a minimum.