August, Georgia – Saturday is called the moving day of the Masters Tournament because that’s when the best golfers try to jump into the leaderboard to position themselves in the championship in the final round on Sunday.
The axiom is valid for Cameron Smith of Australia, whose 4 under 68 on Saturday moved him three shots away from third-round leader Scotty Scheffler, who scored a decisive and steady result of less than 71.
But Saturday was something else: a day of switching spotlights.
Ever since Tiger Woods arrived at the Augusta training ground last weekend, he has dominated all talk of the 2022 tournament and attracted huge galleries of spectators following him from hole to hole as if no other golfer on the field didn’t matter.
But on Saturday afternoon, when Woods limped and made his way through 18 holes and fell behind Scheffler by 16 shots, the focus of this year’s Masters changed.
Woods, who scored 78 a day when temperatures dropped to 40s, was far from abandoned on the golf course. But a certain sense of reality emerged and he dropped seven above the tournament standings and dropped to a draw in 41st place.
Woods ’return to golf after a near-fatal car crash about 14 months ago was an inspiring and encouraging and stunning success anyway. But when the third round came to an end, it was clear that Woods ’return this week would have its limits. From the start of his third round, Woods ’back, surgically repaired, looked stiff, and the transition over the many hills and fortifications of Augusta National seemed particularly painstaking on his restored right leg and ankle.
The most shocking thing is that his greatest strength – his blow, which is envied by his peers for a quarter of a century – left him. Woods put his last three holes three times and had four put on another hole.
After Woods left the 18th hole on Saturday and walked away from the public, his gait deteriorated markedly. He limped to a foot-high platform to address reporters and answered a question about the health of his back, which he had five surgeries.
“It’s not as easy and free as usual, that’s for sure,” he said.
But the 46-year-old Woods knows he is being closely watched. While he didn’t always want to live his life in the spotlight as a role model, he didn’t shy away from this turn of events this week. Asked what he hopes to show sports fans at this year’s Masters, he replied: “Never give up. Always chase your dream. And I struggle every day. Every day is a challenge. Every day puts everyone in front of their own different problems. I wake up and start the fight again. “
Woods ’problems on Saturday began after he played pretty well during his first four holes, which ended with two pairs, a whip and a birdie. But on the fifth hole he noticeably grimaced, inflicting a medium iron blow of 192 yards. His ball settled 65 feet from the hole, a distance Woods struggled to overcome in a staggering four shots, including a third four-foot shot that made almost the entire turn around the hole before turning around. On the ninth hole was another three-stroke that was created as a result of an unsuccessful blow that left Woods ’ball 60 feet up the hill.
Woods recovered with the help of birds on the 12th and 13th holes and two ordinary pairs on the following holes. But three more blows out of sight resulted in two ladders and a double bullet on its three closing holes – and nine more.
“It looks like I made a thousand stains on the green today,” said Woods, who spent part of his time after the round smiling wryly at his misfortunes. “I tried different things, tried to find it, tried to get something. And as if nothing had happened. “
Schaeffler played his first nine holes as if planning to run away with the tournament before sunset on Saturday. He held the second, third, sixth and eighth wells, which allowed him to maintain the five-stroke advantage he held after the second round on Friday. Schaeffler, the highest-ranked player in the world, needs these early heroics to stay well ahead of Charles Schwarzell, who played his first 10 holes below you to take second place.
But Schwarzel, the 2011 Masters champion, fussed with four backs-nine scarecrows. Smith, however, continued the game he showed by winning last month’s player championship when he closed the birds on both back nine par-5s.
Scheffler avoided large numbers at his hole closure on Saturday after lacing his T-shirt deep into the woods along the fairway. Forced to take a drop and one penalty kick, Scheffler then shot down a long iron shot up the steep hill of the 18th hole, which landed on the green but slipped over it. Scheffler successfully executed a fragile chip back down the hill and left a three-foot kick for the gods, which he drowned.
Woods was impressed with Scheffler, who has won the PGA Tour three times this year.
“We’d all like to have that two-, three-month window when we get hot – and hopefully the specialties get somewhere in that window,” Woods said. “We take care of it in those windows. Scotty seems to be in that window now. ”
Sonzhe Im was in third place in the 4th place below the tournament and was five strokes behind Scheffler. Shane Lowry was next two below par after third round 73.