Tiger Woods fires 75; career lows loom

AKRON, Ohio -- After shooting his worst score ever at Firestone Country Club on Saturday, Tiger Woods is now 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 during the third round of the WGC-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.''

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 Phil 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 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 covers golf for ESPN.com.