Tiger Woods got a shocker from Dottie Pepper late Saturday after he finished with a one-under par 69 at the Honda Classic.
Pepper, a 17-time winner on the LPGA Tour, dropped this bomb — it’s been 900 days since Woods broke 70 in a PGA Tour event.
“Wow — that’s a long time isn’t it?” Woods responded, caught by surprise by that extraordinary time lapse.
“Thanks for putting it in perspective,” he said, with a cynical grin.
Yes, seems like forever but Woods pulled it off at PGA National in a third round that may not have been as difficult as the previous two.
“The greens are pretty tricky, 69 is probably the highest score I could have shot,” Woods said after another solid round that saw him go bogey-free for 14 holes. He was two-under for the day heading into the Bear Trap and once again he got stung.
At the par three 15th, he pulled his tee shot well left of the green and left himself a near-impossible up-and-down situation. He tried to go high with his second but it stayed short of the green. A nice chip gave him a kick-in bogey.
After a par at the 16th, he repeated his 15th hole miss at the 17th — again, pulled it too far left to make three. Another bogey and he was back to even for the day, one-over for the tournament.
The driver continued to be a challenge and he missed the fairway left at 18, ending up in a bunker. He got bold, hit a solid three-iron from the sand that found its way pin-high. Another great chip and Woods had a kick-in for 69 and got himself to even-par through 54 holes.
He knows deep down inside that seven shots off the lead isn’t ideal.
“I need to post a number early and see what happens,” he predicted.
When Tiger said “post a number” he didn’t mean another 69 or a 68 or even a 67 for that matter.
It will take something special. Something like Justin Thomas pulled off on Saturday.
Thomas shot the week’s best round — a five-under par 65.
Woods may have to do better than that.
Whatever happens, this is a chance for Woods to score a high finish and give himself some real confidence heading to what should be his next appearance — which could be the Arnold Palmer Bay Hill Classic in three weeks with a longshot at appearing at the Valspar.
But first things first, he still has work to do at PGA National.