Woods struggles at Sawgrass as McIlroy makes birdie on the second

Woods struggles at Sawgrass as McIlroy makes birdie on the second

Former world number one Tiger Woods gained an unwanted record as he struggled to a third round of 75 in the Players Championship today.

Woods had made the halfway cut on the mark of level par, punching the air in delight after making a birdie on his final hole on Friday to scrape into the weekend.

The 14-time major winner insisted anyone who made the cut could still win the tournament, with Kevin Na and Jerry Kelly setting the pace on eight under and the 75-man field separated by just eight shots.

However, a front nine of 40 put paid to any faint hopes Woods add of winning a third title at Sawgrass and saw him record multiple double bogeys on par fives for the first time in his professional career.

Woods’s problems began on the par-five second, where his drive hit a tree and travelled just 105 yards. From there he found more rough and a fairway bunker before finally reaching the green in five shots and two-putting for a seven.

A bogey on the sixth was followed by a birdie on the seventh before Woods fluffed two chips from heavy rough on the ninth to run up another double bogey.

The back nine was far more straightforward with a birdie on the 11th and eight pars leaving Woods on three over par and in a tie for 70th with Padraig Harrington.

At the other end of the leaderboard, world number one Rory McIlroy made the ideal start with a birdie on the second that was matched by playing partner Billy Horschel, moving the pair to within three of the lead.

And Ian Poulter was also off to a flyer, birdies at the second and fourth taking Poulter to six under par.

Na and Kelly were still more an hour away from starting their rounds, but had seen a two-shot overnight lead cut to one by fellow American Justin Thomas, who had recorded eight birdies and two bogeys in his first 12 holes to reach seven under.

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