Tiger Woods, Not on Par With His Ranking

Golf pro hits new low at Bridgestone International tournament.

AKRON, Ohio, Aug. 7, 2010 — -- It's safe to say nothing was as Tiger Woods intended. Tiger tanked for a second day at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, and giving him his worst score through 54 holes since he turned pro.

The audible comments from announcers ranged from "He didn't even touch the hole" to "That's just not breaking how he intended."

When he finished his third round today, Woods was tied for 78th out of the 80 golfers at the tournament, an event that he has dominated. But the No. 1 golfer in the world has slipped.

If Phil Mickelson can finish fourth or better and Woods does not pull off a miracle Sunday to climb higher than a 45th-place finish, the No. 1 ranking will change hands for the first time since 2005.

Woods took a leave from golf after a sex scandal in which dozens of women came forward to claim they'd had affairs with him. Woods issued a public apology in February.

Since his return to the game, Tiger has lost his bite. The man who once seemed a sure thing to break Jack Nicklaus' record for victories at the sport's four major tournaments, failed to finish higher than fourth at any of the year's first three majors.

In his other five PGA tournaments this year he withdrew from one, missed the cut at another and finished no higher than 19th at the others.

Tiger Posting Worst Holes Since Going Pro

After shooting his worst score ever at Firestone Country Club today, Woods is in position to post his worst finish over 72 holes since his first tournament as a pro.

Woods struggled to a 5-over-par 75 today during the third round of the Bridgestone Invitational, epitomized by a semi-shank on the final hole that led to a bogey.

The world's No. 1 golfer -- perhaps only for another day -- dropped his club in disgust and had to scramble for the bogey that still gave him his highest score in 47 professional rounds at Firestone.

For the second straight day, Woods, 34, declined to talk to reporters, telling a PGA Tour media official that those waiting for comment should "talk to the leaders." He did offer a few comments to the media official as he walked to the clubhouse.

"Well, I drove it terrible, hit my irons terrible, didn't putt well and it added up to a lot," Woods said.

Asked if there was anything positive heading into next week's PGA Championship, Woods said: "No, not right now.''

Tiger Woods Concedes Phil Mickelson Likely to Move to No. 1

Woods, who has been ranked No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking for 269 consecutive weeks dating to the 2005 season, can be surpassed by Mickelson on Sunday.

A victory by Mickelson would clinch his first rise to No. 1, but he could still ascend with a top 4 finish as long as Woods does not finish better than 45th.

"Well, if Phil plays the way he's supposed to this weekend, then he'll be No. 1," Woods said.

When he finished his round before noon Saturday, Woods was tied for 78th among the 80 players still in the tournament. He had never been worse than a tie for fourth here through 54 holes at a tournament he has won seven times. Woods has never finished worse than tied for fifth at Firestone.

Woods, who is playing in his eighth tournament of the year, has put himself in position for some dubious achievements.

His worst finish in a tournament where he finished 72 holes was his very first in 1996, the Greater Milwaukee Open, where he tied for 60th. He tied for 67th at the 1997 Memorial, which was weather-shortened to 54 holes.

He has also never finished worse than 10th in any World Golf Championship stroke play event.

At 11 over par through three rounds, that is his worst in relation to par through 54 holes since turning pro. The 75 was his highest third-round score since a 75 at the 2005 Players Championship. And it was just his ninth over-par round in 87 career WGC stroke-play rounds.

Woods' round Saturday was similar to Thursday's 74 -- his previous worst at Firestone -- in that he was plagued by errant shots and an inability to sustain any good play. He made a double bogey, two bogeys and a birdie on the front side to shoot 39, then played the first seven holes on the back in 1 under before finishing with two bogeys.

Bob Harig, who covers golf for ESPN.com, contributed to this report.