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Tiger Woods down by 12 shots heading into the British Open finale

Tiger Woods could manage only a second straight 73 on Saturday at the British Open.

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Tiger Woods during the third round at the British Open.

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UPDATE: The British Open has concluded. Click here for more.

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Tiger Woods was clearly enjoying himself between shots, laughing with good friend Darren Clarke as they played 18 holes at the birthplace of golf.

Not a bad way to spend a sunny afternoon.

But the number on the card needed to be lower.

A lot lower.

All Woods could manage on Saturday at the British Open was a second straight 73, despite having four putts for eagle on the Old Course. None of them would drop, and the distance between the world's No. 1 player and the only spot he really cares about grew from eight shots at the beginning of the third round to a daunting dozen by the time it was done.

Woods will be a mere sidelight on the final day, no matter how many times someone yells, "You da man!" Even at a tournament that can change drastically, given the fluky elements of the Scottish seaside, no one has ever come back to win from more than 10 shots down heading to the fourth round.

While Woods was on the fringe of contention at his first two majors post-scandal, he hasn't been much of a factor at St. Andrews since opening with a 5-under 67 in pristine conditions on Thursday.

"I hit it good," Woods said. "I striped it all day. I just didn't get anything out of the round. I couldn't build any momentum. I wasn't making any putts."

It was easy to zero in on the root of his problems: Look no further than the flat stick.

Woods had a putter in his hand with eagle on the line at the ninth, 12th and 14th holes, the latter being the lone par-5 among them. Two birdies and a three-putt par was the best he could do.

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