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Tiger toils at Olympic, slips five off the pace

Tiger Woods watches his second shot on the 17th hole during the third round of the 2012 U.S. Open golf tournament on the Lake Course at the
Tiger Woods watches his second shot on the 17th hole during the third round of the 2012 U.S. Open golf tournament on the Lake Course at the

By Mark Lamport-Stokes

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Very little went right for Tiger Woods during Saturday's third round at the U.S. Open as he fell out of a tie for the lead to end a frustrating day at the Olympic Club five strokes off the pace.

In pursuit of his first major victory in four years, three-times champion Woods struggled with his putting, often found himself in between clubs for approach shots and repeatedly missed fairways off the tee by very slight margins.

The former world number one, who had been joint top overnight with fellow Americans Jim Furyk and David Toms, piled up six bogeys and just one birdie for a five-over-par 75 to finish at four-over 214 in a tie for 14th.

As Woods made his way up the hill to the Spanish-style clubhouse to sign his card, he bumped his hand into a photographer's camera but later said that his wrist was "fine".

After speaking to reporters, the 14-times champion immediately headed off to the practice putting green to work on his short game.

"I struggled on the greens today, quite a bit," Woods said after being outscored by his playing partner Furyk by five shots. "They looked quick, but they putted slow.

"But they were firmer than they were yesterday so it was a tough feel for me to adjust. And it was just one of those days where I was right in between clubs on about every single shot.

"I just never quite had the right number."

Woods, who wore a lime green shirt for the third round, has never come from behind after 54 holes to win a major.

DIFFICULT TASK

Making his task even more difficult is the number of experienced players ahead of him going into Sunday's final round, including former major winners Furyk, Graeme McDowell, the two co-leaders, and Ernie Els.

"I'm just going to have to shoot a good round tomorrow, post early and see what happens," said Woods, who clinched the most recent of his majors at the 2008 U.S. Open.

"There's going to be a bunch of guys there with a chance, but it all depends on what they do with the golf course tomorrow.

"They made a few changes today. They watered the greens and they gave us a few really difficult pins out there, but also a few very accessible pins. You got to take advantage of those when you have them."

Woods set the tone for a frustrating day when he found the left rough off the tee at the tricky par-four first on the way to an opening bogey.

He also dropped shots at the third, sixth and eighth, where he three-putted, and was never able to recover.

"I'm definitely still in the ball game," Woods said of his position going into the final round. "I'm only five back and that's certainly doable on this golf course for sure.

"It's just patience, it's just a few birdies here and there. It's not like where you have to go out there and shoot 62 and 63. This is a U.S. Open. You just need to hang around.

"First you need to get off to a good start. Get through the first six (holes), because anything can happen at the last three holes."

(Editing by Peter Rutherford)

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