Tuesday 23 January 2018

Golf: Woods stumbles in Akron

Mark Garrod, Press Association Sport Golf Correspondent

Tiger Woods made a bad start to his third round in the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational today - but not as bad as playing partner Ian Poulter.

With the 76-man field split in half and sent out early to try to avoid the expected thunderstorms later in the day, Woods and Poulter found themselves teeing off again at 7am in the very first group with Bubba Watson.

In his first event for 12 weeks after resting knee and Achilles tendon injuries, seven-time winner Woods resumed one under par and joint 36th, but pushed his opening drive into sand for the second time in three days and this time could not salvage his par.

While he dropped to level par, though, Poulter instantly went to three over with a triple-bogey seven.

The Englishman went wildly left off the tee, needed two more shots to find the fairway, went long with his fourth and took three more from 15 feet.

Poulter slumped 11 adrift of joint overnight leaders Adam Scott, Rickie Fowler, Ryan Moore and Keegan Bradley, but did at least birdie the long second whereas Woods found another bunker and had to settle for par for the third round running on Firestone's easiest hole.

Lee Westwood who had four bogeys in his last six holes yesterday to drop from six under to two under, gave himself a six-foot birdie chance on the opening green, but sent it almost as far past and was relieved to save his par four.

Woods remained level par after five, but Poulter's troubles mounted when he went over the green at the third and then three-putted from 14 feet for a double-bogey six.

Luke Donald joined Rory McIlroy on four under with an opening 20-footer and Westwood was only one further back after he splashed out of sand to 10 feet on the long second and made the birdie putt.

Padraig Harrington, however, double-bogeyed the short 12th - his third - to go down to three over.

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