By Mark Lamport-Stokes
DUBLIN, Ohio (Reuters) - A frustrated Tiger Woods matched the second worst score of his professional career as he battled to a seven-over-par 79 in Saturday's weather-delayed, wind-buffeted third round at the Memorial Tournament.
Woods, a five-times winner at Muirfield Village Golf Club where he is the defending champion, once again struggled with his putting on lightning-fast greens to finish well down the leaderboard at eight-over 224.
He recorded a bogey, two doubles and a triple to reach the turn in eight-over 44, his worst nine as a professional, and declined to speak to reporters after bogeying his final hole, the par-four ninth, to come home in one-under 35.
Woods's 79 matched his second round score at the 2010 Quail Hollow Championship and is eclipsed only by his 81 in brutal weather conditions during the third round of the 2002 British Open at Muirfield in Scotland.
"It was a rough day," world number one Woods later told a PGA Tour official after totaling 30 putts for the third successive round for his worst ever score at Muirfield Village. "It was tough out there from beginning to end.
"We didn't hit that many bad shots starting out the day and the next thing you know we are quite a few over par. It was a tough day. I tried to fight back on the back nine, just didn't quite materialize."
A distant 10 strokes off the pace when the second round was completed earlier on Saturday, Woods began his third round at the 10th as organizers tried to get the tournament back on track with a two-tee start.
His first slip of the day came with a double-bogey at the par-three 12th where he found an awkward lie in a greenside bunker off the tee, splashed out sideways to the fringe and three-putted from long range.
Woods also doubled the par-five 15th, where his second shot sailed well left behind a treeline and he needed a further two strokes to reach the green before again three-putting.
He then bogeyed the 17th, after missing the green badly to the left with his approach, to slide to six over for the tournament.
Worse was to follow at the par-four 18th where his approach pitched just short of the elevated green before rolling back down the slope.
His third shot met with a similar fate, his ball spinning back off the front off the green and gathering pace before rolling down the hill, and he shook his head in disgust.
Woods then hit his fourth to five feet above the hole before three-putting for an ugly triple-bogey seven to reach the turn in an astonishing 44.
However, he immediately rebounded from his worst nine-hole score as a professional, sinking birdie putts from 10 feet at the first and 25 feet at the second.
Woods also birdied the par-five fifth but dropped another shot at the par-four sixth after finding the left rough off the tee and advancing the ball only 90 yards with his second shot.
The 14-times major champion ended his round with another bogey after finding the left rough off the tee at the ninth and missing the green to the left with his approach.
"It's just one of those things where I'm sure I'm not the only one who struggled out there," Woods said after finishing a staggering 16 strokes off the early third-round lead.
"The conditions were tough and when I missed it cost me. I caught the wrong gusts at the wrong time, made a couple bag swings and all in all it just went the wrong way."
(Editing by Julian Linden)