AUGUSTA, Ga. – Saturday is called a mobile day in the Masters Championship, when the highest performing golfers try to move up in the standings to place themselves in charge of the tournament in the last round on Sunday.
The axiom was true for Australian Cameron Smith, whose 68-under-68 lead took him three shots from the third-round lead on Saturday, with Scottie Scheffler firing a firm and steady under-71.
But Saturday was also something else: a day to change the spotlight.
Since Tiger Woods arrived at the Augusta National training ground last weekend, he has dominated every conversation about the 2022 tournament and drew holes from hole to hole as if he had no other golfers on the field.
But on Saturday evening, Woods limped and worked from 18 holes and fell to 16 shots behind Scheffler, changing the focus of this year’s Masters.
Woods, who threw a 78 a day when temperatures dropped to the 40s, was a long way off the golf course. But a certain sense of reality was established, he fell to seven in the tournament and fell to 41st.
Woods ’return to competitive golf has been inspiring and gratifying after an almost fatal car accident about 14 months ago and has been an amazing success to any extent. But with the end of the third round, it was clear that Woods ’return would have its limits this week. From the start of the third round, Woods’s surgically fixed back was stiff, and crossing the many hills and mountains of Augusta National seemed particularly tiring on his reconstructed right leg and ankle.
Surprisingly, his greatest strength — his coup, which had been the envy of his comrades for a quarter of a century — he abandoned. Woods made three of his last three holes and had a four-putt in another hole.
After Woods left the 18th hole on Saturday and strayed from the public eye, his walk was significantly tilted. He went to a high-rise platform to address reporters and answered a question about his back health, which has been operated on five times.
“It’s not as light and loose as usual, that’s for sure,” he said.
But Woods, 46, knows he’s watching closely. Although she has always wanted to live her life as a role model, she has not shied away from this week. When asked what he wants to show sports fans at this year’s Masters, he replied: “Never give up. Always following your dreams. And I fight every day. Every day is a challenge. Each day presents us with different challenges for everyone. I wake up and start fighting again. ‘
Woods’s problems began on Saturday after he played fairly well in his first four holes, finishing on two walls, a bogey and a birdie. But in the fifth hole, he made a remarkable gesture after hitting an iron shot from 192 meters in the middle. His ball landed 65 yards from the hole, a distance Woods struggled to negotiate on a stunning four-putt, including a third putt that was four feet away, which gave him a full turn around the hole before leaving. There was another three-putt in the ninth hole, which was set by a poor approach that dropped Woods ’ball uphill 60 yards from the hole.
Woods recovered from holes 12 and 13 in the back with birds on his back and two holes in the next hole. But the other three offside shot two bogey and two bogey one in his three-hole close – and another nine putt.
“It’s like I hit a thousand putts in the greens today,” Woods said, part of the time after he smiled at his misfortunes. “I was trying different things, trying to find, trying to achieve something. And it didn’t work. “
Scheffler played his first nine holes as if he intended to escape the tournament on Saturday evening. He drove in the second, third, sixth and eighth holes, which allowed him to maintain his five-stroke lead after his second lap on Friday. Scheffler, the best male player in the world, needed those heroic starters to be ahead of Charl Schwartzel, who played his first 10 holes under par to get into second place.
But Schwartzel, the 2011 Masters champion, shuddered with four back-nine bogeymen. Smith, however, showed off his excellent play in last month’s Player Championship when he closed out the game with the Birds at nine par-5s.
Scheffler avoided a large number after closing his hole in the hole on Saturday after his shirt shot went into the woods near the fairway. Forced to take a drop and a one-shot penalty, Scheffler struck a long jump from the 18-hole steep hill, landed on the green, but passed over it. Scheffler successfully ran the delicate chip down the slope and left a three-foot putt for the bogey, which sank.
Woods has been impressed with Scheffler, who has won the PGA Tour three times this year.
“We would all like to have that window for two to three months when we get hot, and we expect the main one to fall somewhere in that window,” Woods said. “We look out those windows. Looks like Scottie is in that window right now.
Sungjae Im was in third place with four under-pars in the tournament and five strokes from Scheffler. Shane Lowry was twice below par, after a 73 in the third round.