Tiger Woods last night created an unwanted record by carding the worst nine-hole score of his professional career during a nightmare third round at the Memorial Tournament.
The defending champion took 44 shots on the outward nine and, although he recovered slightly with three birdies in five holes following the turn, two more bogeys followed as he signed for a seven-over-par 79.
That left Woods at eight over for the tournament with no chance of retaining the title. "The conditions were tough and when I missed it cost me," he said after plummeting down the scoreboard at Muirfield Village, where he has won a record five times. "I caught the wrong gusts at the wrong time, made a couple of bad swings and, all in all, it just went the wrong way. It was a rough day. It was tough out there from beginning to end."
Woods, who began on the 10th due to weather delays on Friday, made his first double bogey from an awkward lie in the bunker.
He later chopped out of the rough on his way to a double bogey on the par-five 15th. Rather than bouncing back, things then took a turn for the worse.
He made bogey on the 17th before disaster struck on the 18th when he failed to navigate the slope in front of the green and made a triple bogey.
Failure to make a single birdie before the halfway stage gave his scorecard a particularly ugly appearance. Woods's previous worst nine-hole score was 43, which he has carded on three separate occasions, most recently at Quail Hollow in 2010.
Earlier in the day, the world No 2, Rory McIlroy, narrowly avoided missing the cut when he completed his rain-delayed second round with a three-under 69.
McIlroy, who was struggling after an opening score of 78, had managed 14 holes before the weather intervened and was one of 42 players who faced an early start to finish off their second rounds.
In the end, the Northern Irishman survived the cut, which was made at three over and, like Woods, started his third round on one over. But his game did not improve significantly in the third round ending with a three-over 75 to finish the day towards the bottom of the leaderboard.
At the other end of the scale, the American, Matt Kuchar, made up two shots to take the lead at eight under going into today's final round.
His compatriot Bill Haas and Charl Schwartzel, of South Africa, who had set the pace after the first two rounds, both fell away after disappointing scores of 76. Schwartzel said: "I thought that we would actually get luckier than we did with the conditions. The winds were really up."
But it was better news for Justin Rose who recovered from an early bogey to emerge as the leading European contender on five under after an impressively consistent round of 71. The popular Englishman carded consecutive rounds of 70 over the first two days.
Other players within three shots of the lead and in contention for the title include Australia's Matt Jones and Americans Kevin Chappell and Kyle Stanley.