Tiger's driving improves in Sat. 70


DUBAI, United Arab Emirates -- 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 Saturday morning at 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 cooperate.

Woods shot a 2-under-par 70 in the third round of the Omega Dubai Desert Classic and finished 6 shots back just as 36-hole leader Rory McIlroy was teeing off.

Woods completed 54 holes at 211, 5-under par, 11 shots back of 54-hole leader Stephen Gallacher. McIlroy is 2 back heading into the final round.

But Woods missed close birdie chances at the 17th and 18th holes -- he three-putted the par-5 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-5s 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 3-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-5s, typically the strength of his game. He attributed it to "playing bad."

But he felt better about his driving, despite hitting just 7 of 14 fairways. That was better than the four he hit Friday, and his misses were not as severe. One occurred at the par-4 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 recognize 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-5 and couldn't get up and down from deep rough at the ninth.

He started the back nine with a birdie at the par-5 10th, hit it close for birdie at the 12th, then let his round get away by not making birdie at the par-5 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."