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Woods Starts Final Bridgestone Round With Career-Worst Score

Tiger Woods is 11-over-par going into the final round at the World Golf Championships Bridgestone Invitational, his highest 54-hole score since turning professional.

Woods, who shot 5-over-par 75 yesterday at Firestone Country Club in Akron, Ohio, is 20 strokes behind co-leaders Sean O’Hair and Ryan Palmer who are 9-under-par after 54 holes. Woods has won seven U.S. PGA Tour events on this course.

“I drove it terrible, hit my irons terrible, didn’t putt well, and it added up to a lot,” Woods said during a news conference after his round.

Woods, 34, is 78th out of 80 players, ahead of Henrik Stenson, who is 15-over-par and Michael Jonzon at 16-over-par. His lowest previous third-round position at the Bridgestone was a tie for fourth in 2003 and 2002, the year the tournament was played at Sahalee Country Club in Sammamish, Washington.

Palmer hit a 7-under 63, while O’Hair had a 6-under-64 yesterday to move into first place after the third round. They are one stroke ahead of Matt Kuchar who had a 4-under-66.

“There’s 18 holes of golf left, and in my opinion, there’s no leaders,” O’Hair said. “Whoever is going to win this golf tournament is going to be the guy that’s going to be ready to play and be on top of his game, and I think I’m definitely capable of doing that.”

Worst Positions

Woods had twice previously finished with a 10-over par through 54 holes at the Tour Championship in 1998 and 1996. His worst finish as a professional in an event in which he played four rounds was a tie for 60th place at the 1996 Greater Milwaukee Open, his first event as a pro.

Before yesterday, his worst positions after three rounds were 71st in the 2005 The Players Championship, 70th in the 1996 Greater Milwaukee Open, and 67th in the 2002 British Open Championship, 1999 Bay Hill Invitational, 1997 Memorial Tournament.

The world’s No. 1-ranked golfer is using the tournament as a warmup for next week’s PGA at Whistling Straits Golf Club in Kohler, Wisconsin. Woods finished as runner-up to Y.E. Yang at the 2009 PGA Championship, marking the first time he lost after leading one of golf’s major tournaments through three rounds.

Woods could end up losing the No. 1 ranking he has held for 270 straight events to No. 2 Phil Mickelson, who is 5-under-par after three rounds. Mickelson will unseat Woods if he wins the tournament or finishes fourth or better and Woods isn’t at least 37th.

“If Phil plays the way he’s supposed to this weekend, then he’ll be No. 1,” Woods said.

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