Tiger Woods shoots his worst-ever major round after Masters meltdown

Tiger Woods feels the strain
Tiger Woods refused to blame his battered body for shooting a horrific 82 - Getty Images/Jamie Squire

Tiger Woods shot a horrific 82 here, his highest-ever round in a major, on the third day of the Masters when the toll of his injuries and the extent of his rust once again became painfully clear.

After breaking the record on Friday for the most consecutive Masters cuts made – 24 – this was not the sort of personal history he and his multitude of admirers were expecting. It was his 99th round in the season’s first major and his worst score by four shots.

Wood refused to blame his battered body when explaining what went awry. “It was the fact that I was not hitting it very good or putting well,” he said. “I didn’t have a very good warm-up session, and I kept it going all day today. Just hit the ball in all the places that I know I shouldn’t hit it. And I missed a lot of putts. Easy, makeable putts.”

The 48-year-old at least conceded that Friday’s exertions, in which he played 23 holes due to the first round’s weather delay, had worn him out. “Oh, yeah, they did,” he said. But Woods is determined to finish an official tournament for the first time in two years, despite standing on 11-over with only four players beneath him among the 60 players who made the cut.

“My team will get me ready,” Woods said. “It will be a long night and a long warm-up session, but we’ll be ready.”

Tiger Woods feels his back, but carries on
Woods feels his back, but carries on - Getty Images/Andrew Redington

Last year here he withdrew during the third round because of injuries associated with his car crash in 2021 – that so nearly cost Woods his right leg – and since then he has only played one competitive round, after withdrawing during the second round at the LA Open in February with illness. It is astonishing he was able to compete at all.

Playing with Tyrrell Hatton -–the Englishman who had his own problems, four-putting the 18th for a 73 – Woods began with three pars. Despite his exertions the previous day, he seemed comfortable enough, even when trading a bogey for another birdie.

But then disaster struck when he suffered two double-bogeys in succession. The first came on the par-four seventh, where he hit his drive behind a tree and then chunked his third into a greenside bunker. And on the par-five eighth, where a wild hook off the tee – with a strange, twisty arm motion – was compounded by a three putt.

From there it was not happy viewing for the galleries, which, almost to the exclusion of every other group, swarmed around the two-ball. Another bogey on the ninth meant he had taken 42 shots on the front nine, the most in his 29 years at Augusta. There was a birdie on the back nine, but he was plainly struggling and he bogeyed four in a row from the 14th.

“I wouldn’t necessarily say mental reps, it’s just that I haven’t competed and played much,” Woods said, when asked to pinpoint the flaws. “When I had chances to get it flipped around and when I made that putt at the fifth, I promptly three-putted the sixth and flub a chip at the seventh and just got it going the wrong way, and when I had opportunities to flip it, I didn’t.”

This was Hatton’s third round in the company of Woods, but his first in a major. He looked like breaking par for the first time at Augusta when he stood at one-under for the day on the 18th. But from 30 feet, he putted his first five feet past, then his second effort seven feet past and failed to convert that. Hatton looked more aggrieved than Woods.

Frustration gets to Tyrrell Hatton
Frustration gets to Tyrrell Hatton - AP/Matt Slocum

“For the kid inside of me playing with Tiger at the Masters, like that’s really cool and is certainly not lost on me,” he said.  “But at the same time, I’m going out there competing, trying to put together the best round I can and trying to move up the leaderboard. For 17 ½ holes I feel like I did a really good job of it. I’m devastated, to be honest. It’s tough to take. I don’t know how I have to play golf around here to shoot under par.”

On three-over, Hatton is outside the top 20. He is desperate to at least reach the top 12 and earn an invite back next year because he realises that, having joined LIV in January, he will have little access to ranking points and will find it almost impossible to remain in the world’s top 50 via his displays in regular events. The major have taken on huge importance to Hatton this year.

Rory McIIroy is one further back after a 71, while defending champion Jon Rahm is on five-over following a 72.

Sunday’s winner will earn $3.6 million (£2.9million), the most ever for a major champion. This is further evidence of the LIV effect. The total purse is $20 million, $2 million up on 2023 and $5 million more than in 2022, when LIV had yet to be formed. The prize fund is twice as much as in 2015 and the largest in major history.

Except, it is still $5 million less than what the PGA Tour pros competed for in last month’s Players Championship and only the same as they will play for at next week’s RBC Heritage in Hilton Head. Silly money. Silly game.