CHARLOTTE, NC – MAY 05: Tiger Woods acknowledges the gallery following a birdie putt on the fifth green during the third round of the 2018 Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow Club on May 5, 2018, in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
By Christopher Powers
It would have taken something crazy low on Saturday for Tiger Woods to give himself a chance heading into the final round of the Wells Fargo Championship, and for a few moments during his third round, it looked like a distinct possibility. Yet even with a much-improved putting stroke, Woods walked off disappointed with his three-under 68 knowing he left quite a few out there.
“I changed my stroke a little bit today,” said Woods. “But I was so close to shooting about seven under on that back nine. It was one of those rounds I could have easily shot seven or eight under par without really doing much. Ended up at three (under), which is a good number but also disappointing too.”
While it ended up being his low round of the week, and his lowest round at Quail Hollow since a Saturday 70 in 2009, it didn’t look that way early on, with Woods at one over through four holes and once again failing to get any putts to fall. That changed at the par-4 fifth hole, where he hit his 134-yard approach shot to 13 feet and rolled in the putt for just his fifth birdie all week.
Two holes later, Woods’ drive was left for the third straight day at the par-5 seventh, this time left of the bunker, forcing him to lay up again. But he tactically made birdie like he did on Thursday, and then made another at the par-4 eighth before giving it back at the ninth and turning in one-under 34. After three straight pars to open his back nine, Woods made three consecutive birdies to get to four under on the round.
Woods gave himself three more decent looks at birdie on his final holes and nearly made all three, including at the par-4 18th, where his birdie effort rolled a few feet past and he missed the ensuing par putt. It was a tough way to end a strong round, one that included 15 of 18 greens in regulation.
“My ball striking’s been fine, I just haven’t made anything,” he said. “If I would have made a few more putts, or just putt normal, I would have been up there next to the lead. Just go out there and do the same thing I’ve been doing this week and hit the ball well and make a few putts, which I was able to do (today).”
Winning appears to be way out of the question for the 2007 Wells Fargo winner, but crazier things have happened. If he’s able to strike the ball like he has all week (10th in strokes-gained/approach-the-green, T-4 in greens in regulation), he’ll give himself plenty of looks, but will need them all to drop. As it stands, Woods is at one under for the week, well back of the leaders, who will likely reach 10 under or better on Saturday at Quail Hollow.