Augusta, Ga. – You can always tell where Tiger Woods is and how he is playing at Augusta National. Tiger roars sound different from all of the other patron reactions.
Saturday, the soundtrack of Woods' round included nostalgic roars, audible cursing, and ultimately too many disappointed gasps. In one round, Woods offered reminders of his greatness and his current flaws.
With girlfriend and Minnesota native Lindsey Vonn cheering him from the gallery, Woods shot a 68 that he found disappointing. He birdied the second, third and fourth holes, and narrowly missed birdie putts on the first, fifth, sixth and seventh, but shot an even-par 36 on the back nine. He will enter the final round of The Masters 10 shots behind Jordan Spieth, who was trying to break Woods' Masters scoring record.
"Oh, man, it could have been something seriously low today," Woods said. "I had it really going."
He even had it going when he hit a lousy shot. On the par-5 13th, Woods pulled his drive to the left, and uttered a curse that was picked up by the CBS microphones. He punched his second shot into the fairway, hit a 5-iron onto the green and make a long birdie putt, throwing a celebratory punch that proved his back is fully healthy.
"A stupidly good birdie," Woods said.
He would play the final five holes in 1 over par, leaving him in the middle of the leaderboard.
Saturday's round gave him consecutive rounds in the 60s at a major for the first time since 2012, and for the first time at The Masters since 2005, the last time he won here. It also gave him his first round in the 60s during a major weekend since the final round of the 2011 Masters.
In all, it was an inspired performance from a player who hadn't competed since February, and who rehabilitated his short game and swing out of the public eye.
"I think what I've done this week has been pretty good," Woods said. "Coming from where I came from, and having to change my entire release pattern, that was tough. And people have no idea how hard that was.
"To come back here and play a major championship and to be in the mix … granted, I've got to shoot a super low one tomorrow, but at least I've given myself a chance."
He'll play in the same group as Rory McIlroy on Sunday, a reminder that there is no shame in trailing Spieth by 10 shots in this tournament.