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Woods battles to even par after 'crap start' to US Open 3rd rd

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Pebble Beach (United States) (AFP)

Tiger Woods wrestled an even par 71 out of Pebble Beach Golf Links Saturday in a gritty performance that left him 10 shots off the early third-round pace at the US Open.

Woods' five birdies were one more than he managed in both prior rounds combined.

But after two bogeys in his first three holes he was struggling all the way.

"I got off to a crap start," the 15-time major champion said. "Two-under through three, and those are the easier holes.

"I had to try to fight back and claw out a round today, which I was able to do."

Woods said the par-71 course with majestic views of the Pacific was playing faster than it did on Thursday and Friday, but there were still birdies to be had, even from less than ideal spots.

Woods ended a 19-hole run without a birdie when he made back-to-back birdies at the fourth and fifth, rolling in a 24-footer at the par-three fifth to a roar of approval from the massive gallery.

He gave a shot back with a bogey at the par-three seventh, where he rolled a 38-foot birdie try two feet past then missed the putt for par.

He was two-over after another bogey at 12, birdied 14, then bogeyed 15 before he drained a 30-footer for birdie on 16 and two-putted for birdie at the last.

At even par 213 he wasn't ready to concede he was out of it.

"I got off to an awful start, and clawed it around, but still gave myself a chance for tomorrow, which is positive," Woods said. "There are a lot of guys ahead of me right now.

"Seems like everyone is doing what I was supposed to do earlier, which is play two- to four-under par through the first seven. We'll see what they do coming in."

Woods played with therapeutic tape on his neck and admitted the chilly temperatures and morning mist did no favors to his 43-year-old surgically repaired body.

"When it's cold like this everything is achy," he said. "It's just part of the deal.

"It's been like that for years," Woods said, adding: "I feel every shot I hit."

Nevertheless, Woods didn't blame any physical problems for his inability to gain ground.

"No, I've had my chances to post good rounds today, this week. Today was a perfect example, I fought back and if I was able to clean up my rounds the first two days, I would be closer to the lead than I am now."

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