Tiger's biggest concern remains shortest club

Bernie McGuire
World number 26 Tiger Woods, pictured July 2018, recorded just 28 putts but missed a number of opportunities that could have lifted him higher up the leaderboard

The biggest concern for Tiger Woods continues to be the shortest club in his bag despite shooting a three-under par 68 Saturday at the US PGA Northern Trust tournament.

The 14-time major champion was among the early third-round starters and easily drawing the biggest following of the week as he produced three birdies in a bogey-free display under glorious conditions at Ridgewood Country Club.

While Woods recorded just 28 putts, seven fewer than a day earlier, the world number 26 missed a number of opportunities that could have lifted him higher up the leaderboard than his share of 47th on three-under 210 for 54 holes.

"I'm just not seeing my lines," Woods said.

"It's just one of those things where I'm struggling seeing the lines. The pace has been OK, not great, but my feel is just a little bit off because -- whether I'm seeing high lines or low lines, they are just not quite dialed-in yet."

Woods, who teed-off in the company of England's Ian Poulter in the third group of the morning, holed an 11-foot putt for his first birdie at the par-3 sixth hole.

He then holed a superb curling 16-footer on the par-4 14th ahead of delighting already packed greenside grandstands in sinking a flagstick high putt of six foot on 18th.

But Woods missed a number of shorter chances of around six-feet for birdie on both the first and 12th holes. Over the three rounds, Woods has managed only eight birdies compared to 16 birdies he had accumulated through three rounds in his last event, the PGA Championship, where he finished runner-up.

"I haven't made birdies -- I've only had eight birdies and that's not going to get it done," Woods said. "As soft as the course is, these guys are making a boatload of birdies, and I just haven't made any."

But there's no denying Woods' determination heading to the final round even with a PGA Tour projection that he will drop six places to 26th on the FedEx Cup playoff standings.

"If I can get to 10-under that would be a nice way to end the week. It's not going to win, but at least I can get some good momentum going into Boston and on a golf course that I've won on before," Woods said.

Woods ended his round just minutes before fellow American Jamie Lovemark drove into the Players carpark level for the lead with triple-major winner Brooks Koepka at 10-under par.

Kevin Na was the best of the early starters signing for a 66 and move into the early third-day clubhouse lead on 208.