DUBLIN, Ohio — In the swirling, gusting winds at the Memorial Tournament, Tiger Woods had what even he termed a rough day.
Woods posted his highest nine-hole score as a professional when he shot an 8-over 44 on the back nine during Saturday’s third round of the Memorial Tournament.
Woods walked past reporters after his round and declined interview requests. He spoke later to a PGA Tour official.
“The conditions were tough, and when I missed, it cost me,” he said after completing a 7-over 79 that had him plummeting down the scoreboard at Muirfield Village, where he has won a record five times. “I caught the wrong gusts at the wrong time, made a couple bad swings and all in all it just went the wrong way.”
His previous worst nine-hole score was a 43 on three occasions, most recently at Quail Hollow in 2010.
He wasn’t alone. Playing partner Zach Johnson shot an 81.
“It was hard,” said Johnson, who declined to discuss Woods or his play. “It was very hard today. There was a lot of wind.”
The third member of the group, Jim Furyk, shot a 69 that was among the best scores of the day on a course that is difficult even when conditions are calm and quiet.
Asked if it was stunning when a player as good as Woods shoots such a high score, Furyk said, “Yeah, it is. He didn’t hit that many bad golf shots but he got away with none of them, if that makes sense.”
Woods had earlier rounds of 71 and 74 and now stands at 8-over 224 and near the bottom in the 73-player field. The 79 was his highest score by three shots at the Memorial, where he won 1999-2001, 2009 and 2012.
The 79 was his worst round since shooting a 79 in the second round at Quail Hollow in 2010 and matches the second-highest score he’s had as a pro. His only worse 18-hole score is a third-round 81 at the 2002 British Open at Muirfield.
Things started getting away from him on his third hole, the signature 12th. His iron shot into the par-3 cleared a large lake but left him with a bad stance in the front bunker. He had to hit to the left side of the green — away from the pin — just to get out of the sand. From there he three-putted for a double bogey.
At the 15th, for the second day in a row Woods hit into the fairway but then nailed his second shot into the deep rough on a slope left of the green. He hit sideways to avoid a tree but came up short of the green, then chopped out of the thick stuff with the ball running downhill through the green into the first cut. Again he followed with a three-putt for a double-bogey.
“We didn’t hit that many bad shots starting out the day, and the next thing you know, we were quite a few over par,” Woods said. “It was a rough day. It was tough out there from beginning to end.”
After failing to get up and down from just off the green to the left of the 17th hole, everything unraveled at the difficult par-4 18th. Woods’ drive was down the middle of the fairway, but his second shot was well short and rolled back to a collection area in front. He spun a sand wedge shot that landed short of the pin and then spun back, rolling toward him and ending up even farther away from the pin than he was after the previous shot.
He finally chipped to five feet above the hole on the steeply-slanted green, then rolled his next putt down the hill and seven feet past and missed the comebacker to settle for the triple-bogey.
“The third shot was pretty incredible, to hit it that short and have it spin that much,” Furyk said. “I was up on the green, I watched it go up, spin — it was spinning like a top — and then came back. It had a lot of juice on it.
“He just kind of had things snowball on him and then the putter on the first side we played let him down and that added a bunch of shots as well.”
Woods birdied three of the first five holes on the front nine but had bogeys at No. 6 and 9 for his 79.
“It’s just one of those things where I’m sure I’m not the only one who struggled out there,” he said. “I tried to fight back on the back nine, but it just didn’t quite materialize.”