Who needed to hit a fairway?
Who needed a good swing?
Apparently, Tiger Woods didn’t.
A day after making the cut on the number, Woods did everything he could to manufacture any type of swing to get him through Saturday’s third round of the Farmers Insurance Open. No matter what he tried, Woods was wild off the tee, hitting just three of 14 fairways, and erratic into the greens, hitting just eight of 18 greens in regulation.
If not for a magical short game and superior recovery skills, Woods would have signed for a score north of 79.
“It would have been snowing on me,” Woods said, referencing the dreaded score in golf of 8 — a snowman, get it? As in one 8 after another after another and in the end a score in the 80s.
Instead, Woods scrambled to a 2-under-par 70 on the South Course and moved to 3 under through 54 holes and into a tie for 39th in his first PGA Tour event in a year. He is eight shots behind leader Alex Noren.
“It was a struggle out there. I didn’t hit it worth a darn all day,” Woods said. “I was really struggling out there trying to find anything that was a resemblance of a golf swing. But I was scoring, I was chipping, putting, I was grinding.
“I was trying to miss the ball on the correct sides because I know I didn’t have it, trying to give myself the correct angles and I did that most of the day. Then I had to rely on my touch, my feel, my putting and it’s been good all week.”
Starting on the 10th hole, Woods hit one fairway on his first nine holes, only three greens in regulation, yet was 1 under on the day at the turn.
On the three holes he did hit in regulation, he made birdie on each. And his putter — he needed just 26 putts in the round — saved him from bogeys on the 14th from 15 feet and on the 15th from 5 feet.
Woods’ accuracy improved a bit on his second nine, but he needed his short game to save him on the third, fourth and eighth holes, nearly chipping in on all three holes.
“His short game is probably as good as or better than I ever remember it being,” said playing partner Brandt Snedeker, who shot 74 and is 1 over. “His short game is unbelievable. I was impressed.”
As for his long game, Woods didn’t put the blame on his TaylorMade M3 driver, which he put in his bag after using a TaylorMade M2 in his soft return in the Bahamas last month in the Hero World Challenge.
Instead, he put the blame on his swing.
“My feels are different,” he said. “Some of my go‑to shots aren’t there, some of my shots I like to hit under certain circumstances aren’t there, either. The only thing I have is my short game and my heart and that got me through today.
“ … But hey, I’ll have another day, another day in this whole process of trying to build my way back up and I’m looking forward to it.”