Garcia, Woods can't get anything going

Spaniard cards a 10 on No. 15, and Tiger's putting is a problem

Tiger Woods after third-round 76 on Saturday.

ARDMORE, Pa. — Sergio Garcia was signing golf balls by the scoring tent Saturday when someone told him he had been requested by the media.

"Really?" he remarked.

Guys who shoot 75 in the third round of the U.S. Open to fall into a tie for 44th aren't normally fodder for the fifth estate. But there was nothing normal about Garcia's round.

He dropped a dime on the 15th hole, making a 10 on the 397-yard par 4. After hooking a drive out of bounds, he decided to give the ball some company. Then he pumped a third one out of bounds before making par with his fourth ball. (At least he beat "Tin Cup," who made a 12.)

"I only hit one bad shot and made 10," Garcia said in his classic no-fault mode. "My first shot was into the wind. My second one, I thought it was even better and it went out of bounds by five inches. And then the third one wasn't great."

In Garcia's defense, the distance from the left edge of the fairway to the road is about the length of a cheesesteak. A thin strip of rough offers little protection, as Ian Poulter learned when his drive on 15 went out of bounds. Still, no one forced Garcia to hit driver over, over and over again.

Asked if the hole broke his spirit, the Spaniard replied: "No, I think that with everything I've been through in the last month or so, a 10 is just a 10, nothing more than that."

Garcia was referring to the "fried chicken" comment that will haunt him forever. A few Philly fans heckled him Saturday, to which Garcia responded: "There's a little group that's trying to be funny and stand out. They're not very creative."

The target of the insult, Tiger Woods, has his own issues.

He made a spectacular birdie putt on No. 1, a speedy left-to-right curler from about 12 feet. And then his hands turned to stone.

The rest of his round — 10 pars, seven bogeys, almost zero chance to claim his first major since the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines. Woods' 6-over 76 left him in a tie for 31st, 10 shots behind Phil Mickelson.

"I didn't make anything today," he said. "I just couldn't get a feel for them. Some putts were slow, some were fast and I had a tough time getting my speed right."

He lipped out on No. 10 from four feet. After his try from 16 feet on 11 didn't sniff the cup, NBC's Johnny Miller said: "The magic is just not with him."

Woods missed from inside two feet on 16 and his seven-footer on 18 slid wide right.

Asked why he is not putting as well as he did five to seven years ago, Woods replied: "I think I was leading the (PGA) Tour the last couple weeks. I don't know what you're talking about."

He entered this week fifth on tour in strokes gained per round. But at the Masters, he finished a pedestrian 24th on the greens.

And here? He's hitting a healthy two-thirds of the greens in regulation, better than Luke Donald.

And yet there's no end in sight to his major championship drought. It'll hit 16 unless he shoots about 64 on Sunday and the rest of the field gets food poisoning.

"It certainly is frustrating," Woods said.

tgreenstein@tribune.com

Twitter @TeddyGreenstein

 

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