PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. -- Tiger Woods' early-morning charge into contention at the Honda Classic stalled on the back nine, a lost ball leading to a momentum-killing double-bogey and a third straight 70 at PGA National.
The even-par round left Woods 9 strokes back of 36-hole leader Luke Guthrie, who still had 90 minutes until his third-round tee time when Woods finished. By the end of the day, Woods was 8 off the 54-hole lead shared by Guthrie and Michael Thompson.
"I thought realistically 5- or 6-under par would be a good score, and I thought if I post that I would be within six or seven shots of the lead going into tomorrow at worst,'' Woods said.
Beginning play at 8:15 a.m., in the third group after making the 36-hole cut on the number at even-par 140, Woods seemingly put himself in position for a chance on Sunday. He birdied the first, third and eighth holes to turn in 32, then ran into issues on the 10th.
From 205 yards, he found a bunker and failed to get up and down from there. There were no more birdies the rest of the way. His tee shot at the par-3 17th came up short of the green, and after a lengthy search, could not be found. Nobody was sure if the ball cleared the hazard line, so he was required to play it as a lost ball -- which meant the lonely trek back to the tee.
Woods knocked his next shot on the green, then two-putted for a 5 that knocked him back to even par.
"I was playing solidly all day, caught a bad mud ball at 10 and I hit a slice hook ... and then at 18, I hit another bad one," he said. "At 17, I stuck it in the ground a little bit, caught the wind and ended up making double.''
A year ago, Woods made a big Sunday charge, shooting a final-round 8-under 62 to put a scare into eventual winner Rory McIlroy.
This time, McIlroy is gone, having withdrawn on his ninth hole (No. 18) Friday, citing "wisdom tooth pain." And Woods is likely too far back to have that kind of charge matter.
Since winning his 75th PGA Tour title at the Farmers Insurance Open in late January, Woods suffered a first-round loss at the WGC-Accenture Match Play (where he didn't make a bogey) and now has three straight even-par scores.
Compared to his victory at Torrey Pines, Woods said, "It's not that far off. I feel like I'm probably just not quite driving it as well. I'm driving it long. Just not quite driving it as well.
"My iron game is pretty good and my short game is way better than it was at Torrey. I feel very comfortable with my putting, so I need to obviously get it in play a little bit more and attack from there, because everything else is pretty good.''
Woods will be part of the 60-player field at next week's WGC-Cadillac Championship at Doral.