By Marla Ridenour, Akron Beacon Journal –
DUBLIN, Ohio — When he came to the first tee, Tiger Woods’ droopy eyes gave away how sick he was.
Woods played the third round of the Memorial Tournament with what he said was the flu. But he still shot a 1-over 73 Saturday in windy conditions and stands fourth, 4 strokes behind leader Spencer Levin, entering Sunday’s final round at Muirfield Village Golf Club.
Asked how he was feeling afterward, Woods said, “I’ve been better.”
He said he empathized with caddie Joe LaCava, who had to watch him frequently blow his nose into a towel.
“I don’t think Joey is real happy about that,” Woods said. “But you’ve just got to go out there and deal with it. I was focused and patient all day, so can’t complain.”
But Woods said his round, with three birdies and four bogeys, was probably “the highest score I could have shot today, considering the way I hit it.”
“But I’m only 4 back, and out here with the conditions supposed to be like this tomorrow again, anything can happen,” Woods said. “A lot of guys are still in this ballgame. It’ll be an exciting day tomorrow.”
Woods continued to lead the field in greens in regulation, hitting 72.2 percent. But he’s tied for 30th in fairways hit — 30-of-42 (71.4 percent) — and has hit the same tree on the par-5 fifth hole twice.
“I hit two perfect tee shots the first two days. I can’t get there with this wind unless I hug it up the right with 3 wood,” he said. “Driver is too much. So I have to try and flirt with that right side, and it just so happened both of them caught that tree.”
But Woods’ putter continues to betray him. After seeming to send a message by sinking a 20-footer for birdie on the first hole, he missed six putts inside 15 feet.
“I had a difficult time adjusting to the pace today,” Woods said.
“I know they’re faster than what they were yesterday. But they just didn’t look that fast, and I ran a couple putts by, also left a few short. And I was trying to stay steady in this wind, which is a task in itself, too. I did the best I could today.”
Woods, a four-time Memorial champion, needs one victory to tie Memorial Tournament founder Jack Nicklaus for second on the PGA Tour victory list (73).
Fowler in position
Rickie Fowler will play with Woods for the third time in Fowler’s career and the first time in the final round.
Fowler, 23, is seeking his second tour victory following his triumph at the Wells Fargo Championship, where he rallied from a 3-stroke deficit to defeat Rory McIlroy and D.A. Points in a playoff.
Since missing the cut at the RBC Heritage, Fowler has finished tied for 10th, won, tied for second and tied for fifth.
Asked what was going right, Fowler said: “Just being patient and staying in the moment and not getting ahead of ourselves and focusing on each swing. I’ve been swinging really well, so that’s obviously helped me stay very calm and collected. I’m very confident with my game and where I’m at mentally.”
Camilo Villegas carded a 10 on the par-4 18th hole and putted only once. He matched John Daly in 1999 for the highest score on the hole in tournament history. . . . Vijay Singh, who tied Fowler and Levin for the low round of the day with a 69, is seeking his seventh top-10 finish at the Memorial. . . . There were no bogey-free rounds on Saturday.