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The Loop

Tiger Woods stalls on moving day at the Players

May 12, 2012

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- As the world continues to monitor Tiger Woods' widely talked about "process," perhaps this is one tournament to omit from the discussion. The 14-time major champion certainly hasn't played great at TPC Sawgrass this week, but then again, that's not saying much.

Since his lone win at the Players in 2001, Woods has just one top-10 finish in the event, a solo eighth in 2009. Barring something spectacular on Sunday, he won't add to that total after a Saturday 72 kept him in the middle of the pack of those playing the weekend.

But as he points out, he's not alone in not being able to master TPC Sawgrass. In fact, 19 different winners have won here the past 19 years, making it tough to use a litmus test for how anyone is playing.

"I think if you look at it as a whole, everyone who has played here, they have never been really consistent here," he said. "I mean, everyone, going from the time Jerry Pate won, no one has really contended here or been in contention 70, 80 percent of the time. Like some golf courses you get certain guys playing well there no matter what."

How much of a struggle has it been for Woods at TPC Sawgrass? His Friday 68 was just the fourth time he's broken 70 at the Pete Dye course in his last 23 attempts. But as he has all week -- and all year for that matter -- Woods stayed upbeat about what he's been working on with swing coach Sean Foley.

"It's feeling a lot more comfortable out there," he said. "I'm hitting the shots, I'm shaping the ball again, and it's just trying to get the timing of the wind out there right now."

Woods' third round was relatively uneventful. With bogeys on No. 7 and No. 10, he fell back to even par before getting his first birdie on No. 11. He added a birdie at the difficult 13 and then parred in, barely missing birdie attempts on the final three holes.

"I played well today and didn't get anything out of that round," Woods said. "It was probably the most solid I've hit the golf ball all year actually."

That comment seemed to raise a few eyebrows, but a 72 under very breezy conditions and with a high number of difficult hole locations certainly isn't reason to panic.

"It was a great test," he said.

Woods' next test will be completing this event for the first time in three years. After that, he'll probably play next at the Memorial, a place where he's won four times. There, we should get a better feel about the status of his game, which has swayed from ordinary to start the year, to spectacular at his win in Bay Hill, to shaky at his last two starts.

Actually, about the only thing that has really been learned about Woods this week is that he's gone back to metal spikes in his shoes -- a change he made last week at Quail Hollow -- since his knee is "finally healthy enough." Then again, we've heard that one before too.

-- Alex Myers