Tiger, Rory near bottom of field at Northern Trust


NORTON, Mass. — Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy walked off the 18th green early Saturday afternoon at The Northern Trust and looked like two men happy the day was done.

After all, they had just spent a little less than five hours wandering around all parts of TPC Boston as Woods shot 2-over 73 and McIlroy 3-over 74.

So what else do you do after a round that, when it was over, had them better than just one player in the 70-player field through three rounds?

To the practice range? Putting green? Nope, just go and have lunch and forget about what just happened.

Woods and McIlroy will again be among the early pairings for Sunday’s final round of the first FedEx Cup playoff event, given they did very little to improve their spots on the leaderboard.

The inability to find a groove has been a constant theme for both Woods and McIlroy since golf’s restart following a three-month hiatus because of the coronavirus pandemic. Woods was tied for 40th at the Memorial and tied for 37th at the PGA Championship. McIlroy has had similar issues; he has just one top 20 in six starts, that coming in a tie for 11th at the Travelers Championship in late June.

Both will be in the field in next week’s BMW Championship, which takes the top 70 in the FedEx Cup points list. McIlroy is in good shape to continue beyond that and get into the season-ending Tour Championship; Woods has significant work ahead of him. Only the top 30 gain entry to that event; McIlroy entered this week in the eighth spot, while Woods stood 49th.

On Friday, after making the cut on the number at 3 under, Woods said he hoped to be one of the players who “goes out and tears the course apart” on Saturday. There were, after all, low numbers to be had, considering Scottie Scheffler‘s 59 and leader Dustin Johnson‘s 60 in the second round.

And Saturday’s third round, which began for Woods and McIlroy at 8:30 a.m ET, in just the third group out, nearly five hours before Johnson’s tee time, began with such promise. McIlroy hit his approach at the first hole to 7 feet; Woods’ second settled to 4 feet.

McIlroy made his for an opening birdie. Woods missed from short range, setting the tone for a day in which he needed 29 putts. On Saturday, he missed six putts inside 10 feet. Over the first two rounds, he had missed just one.

Meanwhile, McIlroy’s day began to fall apart at the second. His missed the fairway with his drive, but still tried to reach the par-5 in two. His approach barely cleared the hazard short of the green. His pitch hit the bank in front of him, the ball ricocheting straight up in the air and then tumbling back into the water. He was forced to walk back to the drop zone 110 yards away. By the time he was done, he had a triple-bogey 8.

After hitting a solid approach to 10 feet at the par-3 third that led to a birdie, McIlroy couldn’t help but laugh at his birdie-triple-birdie start as he walked off the green.

“Yeah, 3-8-2 is a great area code,” he joked.

He wasn’t done with big numbers, though. At the sixth, he posted another triple bogey, again set off by a wayward drive and trouble with the rough.

But McIlroy wasn’t alone in his problems. After shooting even-par 36 on the front, Woods carded bogeys at 11, 12 and 14. He, like McIlroy, birdied the par-5 18th to put an end to the misery.

After Woods rolled in the 6-footer, caddie Joe LaCava jokingly waved a towel in the air in mock celebration.

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