MIAMI • Tiger Woods endured a reality check on Saturday after an error-strewn round saw him tumble down the leaderboard at the Hero World Challenge.
After solid displays in his opening two rounds had left him at seven under for the tournament in the Bahamas, the former world No. 1 suffered a torrid third round with a three-over 75.
"Anything that I did right ended up in a bad spot, and then anything I did wrong it was really bad," he said. "It was just one of those days."
It left the 14-time Major winner 10 shots off the lead held by fellow American Charley Hoffman.
Hoffman countered two bogeys and a double-bogey with six birdies in a 70 at Albany Golf Club course for a 14-under total of 202.
American Jordan Spieth (72) and England's Justin Rose (71) were tied for second five shots back.
Woods, playing for the first time since February, was in trouble from the opening hole, hitting his tee shot at the par-four first into the sand bordering the fairway.
His second shot hit a rock hidden in the sand, leaving him with a difficult up and down to save par. He reached the green in three but missed the putt to make bogey.
A further bogey followed on the par-five third when an attempted chip onto the green struck the bank and rolled back. Bogeys on the par-five sixth, par-four seventh and par-four 10th further deepened the gloom.
But he kept battling away and finally started getting some joy from his putting, to finish with two birdies on the par-four 14th and par-three 17th holes to claw back two shots.
After rolling in his putt at No. 14, Woods doffed his cap and gave fans a little bow.
"It's ridiculous, it took me 14 holes to make a birdie," said the 41-year-old, who had back surgery in April.
"At that time I've already played four par-fives and nothing happened. But, hey, it's just one of those days... tomorrow is another fight.
"You've got to keep fighting, and that's one of things I've always done in my entire career is just keep fighting and try to post the best number I possibly could."
He played the five par-five holes in four under on Friday, but was two over on Saturday. Windy conditions made it tough for the elite 18-strong field overall, with only five players breaking par.
No one shot lower than 70, with world No. 1 Dustin Johnson carding a 76 and last year's British Open champion Henrik Stenson signing for a 77. The third-round scoring average was 72.88 - more than three strokes higher than in the opening two rounds.
Despite the frustrations on Saturday, Woods said he was enjoying his return. "It feels good," he said.
"It feels good to be out here fighting again. I've missed the fight."