DUBLIN, Ohio – Zac Blair got Tiger Woods’ autograph at the 2000 PGA Championship while his father James, a long-time Utah club pro, was competing in the tournament.
Zac celebrated his 10th birthday on the final round. Woods won his third consecutive major that day.
They met again Saturday, paired in the day’s third group at the Memorial Tournament, after both made the cut on the number. Blair saw Woods shoot the worst round of his professional career, an 85 capped off by a quadruple bogey on Muirfield Village’s 18th hole.
Blair, a 24-year-old PGA Tour rookie, is 5-foot-6. He has a diminutive stature that makes it easy to mistake him for someone much younger. He beat Woods, the man who once seemed invincible on the course, by nearly a stroke per hole Saturday. Blair made four birdies and shot 2-under 70. He made a 24-foot birdie putt at No. 3 and a 43-footer at No. 13.
Blair said “it was like the coolest thing ever” when he learned of his Saturday pairing.
“I’ve always wanted to play with him,” Blair said. “As a little kid that was kind of my dream growing up. But it was unfortunate to see him not play great.
“I thought he handled it great. He never got super outwardly emotional. … But I don’t think he ever got disrespectful out there. And he was always super courteous to me and friendly. It was nice to see that.”
Woods declined to speak to the media after his round. It’s the second time this year that he’s shot the worst round of his PGA Tour career. His 82 at this year’s Waste Management Phoenix Open was his previous worst.
He made bogeys on Nos. 4 and 5, then made consecutive doubles at Nos. 8 and 9 to make the turn in 42. He found two bunkers on the par-3 eighth hole and hit his approach into the water at the next hole.
He made bogeys at Nos. 11, 12 and 14 before making his lone birdie of the day, at the par-5 15th. He reached the green in two shots and two-putted from 28 feet.
He made bogey at No. 17, then had his struggles at the 18th. He drove into the creek left of the fairway, took a drop and hit his third shot short of the green. He hit his chip shot fat; his ball rolled down the hill fronting the green and came to rest farther from the hole than where it started. He chunked his next chip into a greenside bunker, then two-putted.
He is last in the field in strokes gained: tee-to-green. His quadruple-bogey on 18 was the sixth of his PGA Tour career. It has been an otherwise low-scoring week at Muirfield Village. The cut fell at 1 under par. Dustin Johnson and Keegan Bradley both shot 65 after teeing off in Saturday’s fourth and fifth groups, respectively.
Woods was in last place, eight shots worse than the next player on the leaderboard, when he finished his round. Seventy-one players made the cut, so he will play alone Sunday barring a withdrawal or disqualification.
Blair, a PGA Tour rookie, is 75th in the FedExCup. He finished 40th at last year’s U.S. Open and played in the final group in his first PGA Tour event as a member, the Frys.com Open. He’s the answer to a trivia question now.
“I wish he would have played better, but it was still fun,” Blair said.