Golf: Tiger Woods four-putts in Genesis Open third round to fall 15 shots adrift as Riviera drought continues

Tiger Woods playing a shot on the 11th hole during the third round of the Genesis Invitational in Pacific Palisades, California, on Feb 15, 2020.
Tiger Woods playing a shot on the 11th hole during the third round of the Genesis Invitational in Pacific Palisades, California, on Feb 15, 2020.PHOTO: AFP/GETTY IMAGES

(REUTERS) - A shocking four-putt took tournament host Tiger Woods completely out of contention at the Genesis Open in Los Angeles on Saturday (Feb 15), as he ended the third round 15 strokes behind leaders Rory McIlroy, Adam Scott and Matt Kuchar.

At a tournament where he made his first PGA Tour appearance as a skinny 16-year-old amateur in 1992, he carelessly missed a two-foot putt at his fourth hole, the 13th.

He then compounded his error by also missing the next one, from about three feet.

McIlroy made a deft par save at the final hole to earn a three-way tie for the lead with Scott and Kuchar, as the tournament headed towards a Hollywood finish in Tinseltown.

Despite missing several excellent birdie opportunities, the Northern Irishman carded a three-under 68 in magnificent winter sunshine at Riviera.

Australian Scott sank a breaking 10-foot downhill birdie at the last for 67, while American halfway pacesetter Kuchar managed a 70.

The trio, with 39 official PGA Tour victories between them, will start Sunday's final round at 10-under 203, with four others within two strokes on a tightly-bunched leaderboard.

Americans Russell Henley and Harold Varner III trail by one, while 2017 champion Dustin Johnson is two behind with Joel Dahmen.

Any chance of Woods finally winning at Riviera, a venue that has proved strangely elusive over the years, will have to wait another year, while an opportunity for a record 83rd tour victory will also be put on hold for a couple of weeks at least.

He is not playing this week's WGC-Mexico Championship, and was tight-lipped about his schedule after that, stating the obvious by saying his priority was to peak in April at the Masters, where he will defend his Green Jacket at Augusta National.

In explaining his decision to skip Mexico, he said he was a "little rundown" and did not feel it wise to tee up two weeks in a row just now.

"I feel stiff, but I have weeks like that, especially in the cold mornings like it was the other day," the 15-time major champion told reporters after shooting five-under 76.

"Don't quite move as well and that's just kind of how it's going to go."

Woods had a spinal fusion nearly two years ago and he said his 2020 schedule would be very light, as it was last year, when he played just 15 times, including the Presidents Cup.

"I won't play a lot more than that just because of the physical toll, and I want to stay out here for just a little bit longer," said the 44-year-old.