Alastair Grant, Associated Press
HOYLAKE, England — Tiger Woods was the last to tee off Saturday in the British Open. He had the biggest gallery. It might have seemed like old times for Woods in the major championships except for one tiny detail.
He was starting on the 10th tee in last place. And this third round didn't get much better.
Woods began the British Open with five birdies in a six-hole stretch for a 69 that put him only three shots behind Rory McIlroy. He walked off Royal Liverpool on Saturday with another round over par, leaving him 19 shots out of the lead.
"Made a lot of mistakes," Woods said.
Woods was 5 over on the opening two holes going into the weekend. At least he was able to start with a par 5 on Saturday at No. 10, and he opened with a pair of birdies. That was about as good as it got.
He made a double bogey for the second straight day, this time at No. 2. He drove into a gorse bush on the seventh fairway and made a triple bogey for the second straight day. The damage added to a 73.
"I've made two doubles and two triples," Woods said. "But on top of that, I missed a lot of shots for opportunities for birdies, and consequently I'm 3-over par."
Woods is playing for only the second time since back surgery on March 31. He missed the cut at Congressional three weeks ago. He has not mentioned anything about pain from his back surgery, which is good news for him. And he said he was starting to get into the flow of playing tournament golf again.
"But still I've just made too many mistakes," he said. "You can't run up high scores like that and expect to contend, especially when the conditions are this benign. Most of the scores are 3-under par or better. I certainly didn't do that."
Woods was tied for 58th. Except for missing the cut five years ago at Turnberry, he has never finished out of the top 30 in the British Open.
This week doesn't seem to provide any answers about being picked for the Ryder Cup. U.S. captain Tom Watson has said he wants Woods on the team provided he is healthy and playing well. Woods at least is playing better than the 64-year-old Watson, who shot a 75 and is two shots behind Woods.
Watson had hoped to talk to Woods this week about the Ryder Cup. Watson said all he had time to say to Woods this week was, "Hello."
CLARKE'S REBOUND: Darren Clarke has only two top 10s in the three years since he won The Open at Royal St. George's — a runner-up against a weak field in China, and a tie for eighth in the Australian PGA Championship.
He gave himself a chance for another with a 5-under 67 on Saturday, matching the best score of the day. Clarke was 11 shots out of the lead in a tie for 12th.
"I've been playing OK for quite some time," Clarke said. "Today I holed a couple of putts and managed to keep some momentum going."
Of course, he has had to adjust to a new body. Clarke has lost some 50 pounds after seeing photos of himself that he thought made him look too large.
"I'm not as fat as I was," he said. "So my timing, it took me a little bit of time to adjust to that. The ball-striking has been pretty good. I just need to knock in a few putts and get some momentum going. It feels like I've started to do that."
WITHIN RANGE: The goal for Rory McIlroy is to win the claret jug Sunday, and he's in great shape with a six-shot lead.
A few more records also are in range.
McIlroy was at 16-under 200.
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