By Marla Ridenour
Beacon Journal sports columnist
Tiger Woods did not prolong his agony Saturday morning at Firestone Country Club.
The seven-time Bridgestone Invitational champion blitzed through his third round, turning in his worst score in 47 rounds on the South Course with a 5-over 75.
Teeing off at 7:55 a.m., Woods and playing partner J.B. Holmes made the turn in 90 minutes. They finished 18 holes at about 11:20 a.m.
Woods' three-day total of 11-over 221 is his highest score in relation to par since turning professional. He had twice gone 10-over par, at the 1996 and 1998 Tour Championships.
Before many had teed off in the third round, he stood 78th on the leaderboard. His worst positions through 54 holes in his career were a tie for 71st in the 2005 Players Championship, a tie for 70th in the 1996 Greater Milwaukee Open (his first pro event) and ties for 67th in the 1999 Bay Hill Invitational, the 1997 Memorial Tournament (a rain-shortened three-round event) and the 2002 British Open.
His worst finish in a four-round tour event was in 1996 at Milwaukee, when he tied for 60th.
Only three times as a pro has Woods failed to shoot par or better in at least one round. Those are the 2003 PGA Championship, the 1999 British Open and the 1998 U.S. Open.
Woods initially declined to talk to reporters, saying, ''Go talk to the leaders.'' But he spoke to a PGA Tour communications staffer on the way to the driving range.
''I drove it terrible, hit my irons terrible, didn't putt well and it added up to a lot,'' he said later.
He hit seven out of 14 fairways on Saturday and has hit only 15 out of 42 for three days. Hitting the green was just as difficult with 7-for-18 in round three and 25/54 (46.3 percent) for rounds 1-3. His worst as a pro in the latter category was 45.83 percent at the 2003 PGA Championship.
Asked if there was anything positive to be taken out of this week, Woods said, ''No, not right now.''
It appears that rival Phil Mickelson will assume the No. 1 spot in the world rankings next week. Woods has held the top spot for 269 consecutive weeks and 611 weeks in his career.
Mickelson could finish as low as fourth in the Bridgestone and still take over No. 1 as long as Woods finishes outside the top 37.
''If Phil plays the way he's supposed to this weekend, then he'll be No. 1,'' Woods said.
U.S. Open champion Graeme McDowell said he is shocked to see Tiger playing so poorly.
''Extremely shocked, especially on this golf course,'' McDowell said. ''I think we're all waiting for the week where he comes back and this is not it. I think we're all shocked to see him do that. He's the greatest player who's ever played the game. It says [a lot] about what he's got going on in his head right now. This game's tough enough without having a lot of stuff off the golf course in your head. He's not as focused a man as he once was. Until he gets himself settled off the course he's not going to be the same guy on the course. He'll be back. He's too good not to be back.
''Generally if you're ahead of Tiger Woods you feel you're doing pretty well. We're all shocked to see what he's dealing with right now and his game is not reacting too well. Hope he comes back soon, but we won't mind if he waits until after next week [PGA Championship] to come back.''