• Dubai Desert Classic

Driver better, putter isn't, for Tiger in round three

February 1, 2014
Tiger Woods found form from the tee but still struggled on the greens in Dubai © Getty Images

Tiger Woods is not immune to the issues that face most golfers: the frustration of not being able to put all aspects of the game together at the same time.

After struggling with his tee shots in the early going of 2014, Woods finally found some form on Saturday morning at the Emirates Golf Club, rifling his tee ball on numerous holes and giving himself the opportunities that had eluded him a day earlier.

Unfortunately for the game's No.1-ranked player, he could not get his putter to co-operate.

Woods shot a two-under-par 70 in the third round of the Dubai Desert Classic and finished six shots back just as tournament leader Rory McIlroy was teeing off. Woods completed 54 holes at 211, five under par.

But he missed close birdie chances at the 17th and 18th holes - he three-putted the par-five 18th - and was left to wonder what might have been.

"Wasted a lot of opportunities out there today," said Woods, who played the third round with Finland's Mikko Ilonen, who also shot 70. "Today was an easy day, I only hit a couple of bad shots, missed a ton of putts. I really hit it good and just threw away a lot of shots."

Once again, the par-fives proved to be Woods' nemesis. He birdied just one of the four, bogeyed the third, failed to get up and down from a bunker at the 13th and three-putted the 18th. He took 29 putts after hitting 13 greens.

For the year, Woods has played six rounds and is over par on the par-fives, typically the strength of his game. He attributed it to "playing bad."

But he felt better about his driving, despite hitting just seven of 14 fairways. That was better than the four he hit on Friday, and his misses were not as severe. One occurred at the par-four 17th, where he was trying to drive the green and was pin high but couldn't get up and down for birdie.

"I smoked it today," he said. "Did a little bit of a fix last night and felt like it was good."

The adjustment was to his grip, and Woods said again he sometimes fights falling into old habits that he doesn't recognise immediately.

Still, Woods had a few tough moments. He had to chip in to save par at the first, hit a horrible second shot at the third that led to a bogey on a par-five and couldn't get up and down from deep rough at the ninth.

He started the back nine with a birdie at the par-five 10th, hit it close for birdie at the 12th, then let his round get away by not making birdie at the par-five 13th. He ended up parring in from there where a much better round was possible.

Still, Woods maintained he is not concerned.

"I'm pleased because it's progressing, slowly," Woods said. "Unfortunately I'd like to have it come a little quicker but I'm going to have some up and downs. I'm going to have some bumps in the road."

This article originally appeared on ESPN.com

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