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Tiger Woods cards first bogey-free round of 2018, frustrated by putting struggles

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Tiger not happy despite bogey-free round (0:38)

Tiger Woods discusses his round on Saturday, where he stayed free of bogeys but feels he didn't make enough birdies. (0:38)

PARAMUS, N.J. -- Tiger Woods was up early Saturday, a dew-sweeping third round at The Northern Trust the penalty for making the 36-hole cut on the number, with Ryder Cup nemesis Ian Poulter also relegated to the third group out at Ridgewood Country Club.

For Woods, it was more of the same -- a bunch of missed putts and a relatively frustrating day despite shooting a 3-under-par 68 and playing his first bogey-free round of 2018.

At least he was finished well before lunch.

"For the week, I've only made eight [actually seven] birdies, and that's not going to get it done," Woods said. "These guys are making a boatload of birdies, and as soft as it is, I just haven't made any."

Woods was off the course well before leaders Brooks Koepka and Jamie Lovemark arrived, taking some solace in better driving [he was ranked eighth in strokes gained off the tee] and solid approach play.

He hit 13 of 18 greens after hitting 16 greens on Friday, and at least got his putt total under 30 (28) after taking a whopping 35 in the second round.

When the third round was complete, Woods had improved 18 places and was tied for 49th, but he's 13 strokes behind leader Bryson DeChambeau.

For the week, Woods has missed 20 putts inside of 20 feet, and nine of those were 10 feet or less.

"I'm just not seeing the lines this week," he said. "Just the way it is, the way it goes. And, you know, I've called [caddie] Joey [LaCava] in a few times this week. 'Joey, I see three different breaks here.' He said, 'Yeah, so do I.'

"I'm hitting in these spots where I've had double-breakers, or if not triple-breaking putts, and I'm just not seeing or feeling correctly through those areas. You know, just one of those weeks."

Woods said the issues are not related to any problems he had earlier in the year, such as at the Wells Fargo Championship, the Memorial and the U.S. Open. He switched to a different putter starting with the Quicken Loans National, where he tied for fourth, and had three of his better tournaments of the year since that change.

The bogey-free round was his first in 55 rounds in 2018 and first going back to the final round of the 2015 Greenbrier Classic -- a total of 68 rounds.

"I've played a clean card for about 15 or 16 holes, a number of times actually, this year and just didn't quite finish off the rounds that way I wanted to," he said. "Today I did. I didn't birdie 17, but nice to birdie 18."

Woods will start the final round Sunday well out of contention but will seek to gain some positive thoughts for the upcoming tournaments.

"I think if I can get to double digits [under par], that would be nice," he said. "I think that would be a nice way to end it. Most of these guys are going to go really low, and hopefully I can shoot well, one that will get me into double digits tomorrow and give me some nice momentum going into next week."

Woods is playing next week's Dell Technologies Championship at TPC Boston and is assured of a spot in the BMW Championship the following week. He was ranked 20th in FedEx Cup points coming into the tournament and will need to remain in the top 30 in order to qualify for the season-ending Tour Championship.