Tiger Woods' 3rd-round 76 at Merion ends 2013 U.S. Open chances

Drew Hallowell

Tiger's chances at a 15th major are wiped away after his highest professional round at a U.S. Open.

It was another Saturday to forget for Tiger Woods, whose struggles on the weekend at majors persisted at Merion with a third-round 76. Tiger's game has come a long way since the personal scandal of 2009, a consistent deadly climb back to No. 1. He's made noise at almost every major over the past two years, but his chances have repeatedly fizzled out on the weekend. He put himself in position at all four majors last year, but did not fire a round under par in eight weekend tries. At Olympic last year, he played his way out of the tournament on Saturday and of course at this year's Masters, Woods was the victim of a rather unfortunate break that ruined his shot at Augusta.

The weekend fade occurred again at Merion and Tiger's hope at a 15th major were nearly extinguished by the time he made the turn. He scuffled through his first two rounds, missing off the tee and more importantly, around the green. But he hung around Friday night and watched the field struggle just as bad, if not worse, while improving his position 15 spots without ever hitting a shot. That provided promise for Saturday, when Merion would likely present a few more birdie opportunities than the brutal setup of Friday.

But three bogeys in a four-hole stretch on the front side effectively eliminated Woods. A four-shot deficit became a six-shot deficit, while world-class players such as Luke Donald, Charl Schwartzel and Justin Rose worked their way in the other direction into red figures. That front-nine stretch was just the beginning, however, as Tiger's birdie putt at the first hole was followed by seven bogeys for the ugly 76.

Tiger's short game has been the difference in his comeback to No. 1 in the world, but that's abandoned him in his last two appearances at Memorial and Merion. He's been lost on the greens all week, unable to judge speed early with the rainy conditions and misjudging breaks in all conditions. The wedge work isn't there either, as evidenced by this thinned chip at No. 6 that encapsulated his miserable start:

Tigerfail_medium

Even with that throwaway front nine, he still theoretically had a chance to be inside the top 20 with the ability to make a run at Sunday. But the back nine was just as unkind, and the horrible day on the greens was capped by two missed par putts in the last three holes. The first miss was from two feet, a rare look-in by NBC after the non-contending Woods had played much of the back nine in obscurity:

Tigerwoodsisterrible_medium

Most will cite the injury troubles, but the deviation from his 2013 form over the past two weeks has come out of nowhere and at the worst possible time. Checked out, he missed one more time at No. 18 to finish the day at 9-over -- which Johnny Miller noted was his highest 54-hole total as a professional at the U.S. Open. Team Tiger, comprised of girlfriend Lindsey Vonn and media man Glenn Greenspan, was positioned greenside at No. 18 for the last of the day's disappointments and their reaction summed up what is another lost weekend at the majors:

Vonnsad_medium

And just like when he plays well, the Tiger stats, trends, nitpicks and analysis started rolling in after the ugly day:

Still stuck on No. 14, Tiger will play out the string on Sunday and turn his attention to Muirfield in July.

More golf from SB Nation:

Poor 3rd dooms Tiger | Why do we cheer for Tiger?

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Who is Billy Horschel? | Horschel dance

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