Since they currently sit at first and second in the event, Tiger Woods and Graeme McDowell are playing together in the final pairing of the third round of the WGC Cadillac Championship. G-Mac, who is 11 under par after two rounds, is two shots back of woods after 36 holes. That won’t be the case at the conclusion of the third round. He may not be in the lead at the end of the third round, but McDowell will be ahead of Woods.
McDowell has yet to card a bogey through two full rounds. Woods, on the other hand, has played well but still recorded four bogeys over the first two rounds. Tiger has just compensated with 17 birdies over that same stretch. It’s going to be incredibly difficult for Woods to maintain that level for another 18 holes.
I see Woods continuing to play well, but some of the trouble he managed to overcome in the first two rounds could come back to haunt him over the weekend. McDowell has played a much more consistent 36 holes, and in any tournament, that is the key to being competitive. If Woods cools off at all, he’s going to be shooting much closer to even par. He can’t expect to make another 17 birdies over the course of the last two days. Tiger has managed to get himself out of some trouble while McDowell has been just about flawless.
McDowell has hit 75% of the fairways thus far while Woods is hitting the fairway only 57.14% of the time. Eventually, those errant drives are going to catch up with Tiger and some of those holes that ended up in birdie or par will turn into bogeys.
Tiger’s putter has been on fire, as he is leading the tournament in putting average at 1.464. McDowell isn’t far behind, however, at 1.593. Tiger is a much streakier putter than McDowell, and if Woods hits a cold streak he could be in trouble.
The reason I see McDowell pulling ahead of Woods in the third round isn’t because I think Tiger will play poorly, but rather because I think McDowell will continue to grind away consistently.