Tiger Woods watches his second shot on the 17th hole during the third round of the 2012 U.S. Open golf tournament on the Lake Course at the Olympic Club in San Francisco, California June 16, 2012. REUTERS/Matt Sullivan

Tiger Woods headed straight for the practice putting green at San Francisco's Olympic Club late Saturday after his hopes of ending a four-year winless drought in the majors took a knock.

The former world No.1 struggled to a five over 75 that leaves him five strokes behind joint leaders Jim Furyk and Graeme McDowell, and with 11 other players sandwiched in between.

It had been, he agreed, a frustrating day especially on the greens where he found it difficult to judge the speed as they dried out under the hot California sunshine after having been watered before the third round started.

“I struggled on the greens today, quite a bit,” he said.

“They looked quick, but they putted slow. But they were firmer than they were yesterday. So it was a tough, tough feel for me to adjust to.”

Woods got off to a horror start with four bogeys in eight holes before he grabbed what turned out to be his only birdie of the day at the ninth hole.

He never looked comfortable down the back nine and two more bogeys followed at the 16th and 18th, where he fluffed a chip from thick rough at the side of the green.

Woods, who jointly led the tournament overnight at one-under 139 with Furyk and David Toms, said that his game had not been that bad and that the margins had been small.

“I was just missing by just a few yards and that was enough,” he said.

“Probably about three fairways I missed just probably about three or four yards. And then that makes a big difference.”

Eight of Woods's 14 major titles have come when he has led or been the joint leader at the halfway stage and only once has he failed to seal the deal from that position.

On his prospects for Sunday, when he will play with fellow American Casey Wittenberg, Woods said “I'm definitely still in the ball game. I'm only five back and that's certainly doable on this golf course for sure.

“I think the course will be just as quick, I think they like it just the way it was.

“You saw that some of the guys went out early and shot some good scores, they had a little bit more moisture on the greens and it dried out certainly in the last few groups.

“No one really shot good numbers on the back. So maybe I can be one of those guys that goes out there and posts a round early.” - Sapa-AFP