ORLANDO, Fla. -- This time, at a track where he has enjoyed nearly unparalleled success, when Tiger Woods stepped on the gas, something different happened.
He went into reverse.
Woods began the third round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational in a tie for 10th, and when it started slipping away on Saturday, he began aggressively flag-hunting on the back nine and everything went down the drain.
If not into a greenside lake, where sloppy approaches on the 13th and 16th both drowned, leading to a 2-over 74 that dropped him into a tailspin at T29. He's 10 shots behind leader Martin Laird of Scotland.
"I made a few mistakes out there," he said. "There was a point in the round I had to get more aggressive on 13 and paid the price for it. I figured I needed to shoot 3- or 4-under, and backfired on me a little bit."
More like exploded. The six-time Bay Hill champion made a double-bogey six that completely derailed a round that, for laqck of a better term, had at least been entertaining. Woods had four pars, three bogeys and eagle and a birdie on his front nine, and was still T12 after the eighth hole.
But like most of his other tournaments in the past year, he was unable to sustain much of anything. He repeatedly hit lackluster shots from the middle of the fairway, dumping green-light approaches into bunkers or water.
"I feel like I'm swinging well," he said. "If I do it right, I can hit some pretty good shots. Just today was kind of a ... mixed bag."
He hit another ball in the water on the 16th when his foot slipped on a shot from a fairway bunker, leading to a bogey on the easiest hole on the course. His 74 matched his highest score ever in the third round at Bay Hill, where he won his two most recent starts, in 2008-09.
"Tee to green it wasn't that bad," he said. "But two bad swings, put the ball in the water and that's three shots and a couple missed putts; a round that should have been under par easily ended up over par."
He might have low-balled it a tad. The bad shots, as has often been the case this year, were eyebrow-raising. He had a 157-yard shot from the middle of the fifth fairway and yanked it 20 yards left into a greenside bunker for a scuffling bogey. He flubbed a chip shot on the eighth hole.
On the ninth tee, he let his driver fly after hitting a scorching hook into trees. On the 11th hole, he had 152 yards to the flag and hung out a wedge, leaving it 33 feet from the hole. Then there was there was 118-yard wedge from the fairway he dunked on the 13th, leading to a double-bogey. He's 0-for-5 in sand saves for the week.
He did, however, hit 10 of 14 fairways, equalling the combined total of his first two rounds.
Woods was left hoping the winds would kick up in the final round, which has been forecast, and that he might be able to scratch out a good round when others are struggling in the elements.
"Hopefully the wind blows tomorrow," he said, "and I can post a good one and I can get a little momentum going into Augusta."