Tiger Woods' Comeback Stalls with Inconsistent 3rd Round at the National 2018

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistJune 30, 2018

POTOMAC, MD - JUNE 30:  Tiger Woods looks on from the first fairway during the third round of the Quicken Loans National at TPC Potomac on June 30, 2018 in Potomac, Maryland.  (Photo by Mike Lawrie/Getty Images)
Mike Lawrie/Getty Images

Tiger Woods' charge at the 2018 Quicken Loans National stalled on the back nine Saturday during a two-under 68 in the third round at TPC Potomac in Maryland.

Woods moved within one shot of the lead after tallying five birdies in a six-hole stretch to close out the front nine. He couldn't build off that success after the turn, however, playing the back side in one over.

The 14-time major champion, who stands at seven under for the tournament, finished the day six strokes behind the lead pace set by Abraham Ancer and Francesco Molinari.

Woods' third round was a microcosm of his 2018 season.

There were flashes of his former brilliance when he hopped aboard the birdie train starting on the fourth hole. He combined good driving with solid iron shots and continued strong work on the greens after switching to a new TaylorMade mallet putter for this week's event.

Here's a look at some of his highlights from the hot streak:


Back to -5. @TigerWoods birdies No. 4. #QuickHits https://t.co/j7rHcwdLa0


Tiger has birdied three in a row. He's 2 shots back. #LiveUnderPar https://t.co/HWUWefnwYL


Five birdies on the front nine. @TigerWoods goes out in 3-under 32. #LiveUnderPar https://t.co/swmPRBM9fk

Tiger's lack of consistency reared its ugly head on the back nine, though.

The 42-year-old missed an eight-foot birdie putt on the par-five 10th to quell his momentum, and he never fully recovered.

After offsetting a bogey on the 13th with a birdie on the 16th, he finished on a low note by dropping a shot on No. 18.

Tiger made a mess of the course's final hole. He found the rough off the tee and a greenside bunker with his approach. While he almost escaped with a par save from the sand, his ensuing eight-foot par putt slid by the hole.

His putter, which played a massive role in his surge over the prior 27 holes, cooled off on the back nine. The other facets of his game weren't good enough to make up for it.

ESPN Stats & Info spotlighted the renewed putting woes:

ESPN Stats & Info @ESPNStatsInfo

After a bogey on 18 - his fourth of the day - Tiger Woods cards a 2-under 68 in the 3rd round of the Quicken Loans National He was strong with his putter on the front 9, making 3 putts outside of 10' but struggled with the club on the back 9, going 1-for-8 on putts outside of 5' https://t.co/KVWZnXVeQV

All told, Woods is still in the mix heading into the final round. But instead of being in the lead or right behind the leaders, he's fallen to the fringe of contention.

A slow start to Sunday's round would likely dash any hope of his recording his first victory since the 2013 Bridgestone Invitational.