PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. — Tiger Woods struggled on Saturday at the Players Championship, carding an even-par 72 as he battled with a balky putter on the front nine. He was able to birdie two of his last three holes, including one at the par-3 17th—a little bit of revenge for the disastrous quadruple bogey he made during his second round. As we later found out, it was a disaster the 14-time major winner could have partially avoided.
Had Woods known, he could have played his third shot from the walkway that leads to the island green, rather than from the drop area, which is 80 yards away. With the back pin on Friday, that's as tricky a shot as it gets, and Woods proved it by depositing a second ball in the water after his original tee shot had found the water. He eventually made a 7, which could have been a 5, 4 or even a 3 had he dropped in the spot that the guys on Golf Channel pointed out.
Apparently, Woods didn't know, which he made clear after his third round on Saturday at TPC Sawgrass.
"Yeah, I talked to DD [David Duval] about it last night, and I didn't realize that, where my ball had crossed … I thought it had crossed on the green and just hopped over the back and that was it," Woods said. "Go right to the drop area and I ended up seeing Haotong [Li] do the same thing, he hit the ball same spot as I did, dropped it back in the drop zone and went about playing his hole. And unfortunately I just didn't know where the ball had crossed. There's no marshals up there and so it is what it is."
Woods was asked if he has ever seen anyone drop in the spot that was highlighted on Golf Channel.
"The only time I've ever seen it was when we had the old steps, the wooden steps going through there and the guys would hit it and it would hop on the wood and then go down there," Woods said. "But it was, it's halfway down the walk path and then, yeah, I've seen guys do that before, but not to where we hit it.
"Unless a marshal told us, if we had a marshal up there to tell us that that's where it had crossed, then I would have had that option, but I didn't know."
There's no way of knowing what Woods would have made had he taken the other drop option, but it's fair to say he would have saved at least two or possibly three shots. As of now, that would still put him five or six back of the leaders, which isn't insurmountable, but it's hard to imagine him winning even with those extra shots. He's sounds like he's moved on anyway.
"That's done. It is. I hit a shot that I thought was just a touch too flat and ended up in the water, but it's just the way it goes."