The world number one, seeking to become the first man in 150 years to win the Open three times at the Home of Golf, could only manage a one-over 73 in his third round yesterday when what he needed was something in the 60s.
Finishing the day at three under for the tournament, Woods was 10 strokes off the lead and tied for 19th place.
Even for him that looked like mission impossible.
Woods, who is looking for his first win since November when a sex scandal turned his life upside down and sullied his reputation, said that while he was reasonably happy with his round, he just could not get anything going.
"Ironically enough now I'm driving it beautifully and I'm not making any putts. It's just one of those things where you just have to be patient," he said.
"I was grinding. I was as patient as I possibly could be today, and I was just trying to plod my way along and just didn't get anything going."
Playing with close friend Darren Clarke, Woods parred the first four holes but bogeys at five and eight were destructive.
He birdied the ninth to reach the turn in one over 37, but again failed to find much of a spark on the back nine.
At the 17th Road Hole he ran through the green and into the grass verge fronting the famous wall. From there he was unable to get up and down and another shot had gone.
For the second straight day Woods then drove the 357-yard closing hole, but needed three putts to get down from the back of the green, sending him gloomiliy into the scorer's office.
That missed chance just about summed up Woods' day.
"I hit it good today. I mean, I striped it all day. I just didn't get anything out of the round," he said.
"I couldn't build any momentum, wasn't making any putts today, and once I got it going just a little bit, I thought, I had back to back three putts at 13 and 14."
Woods only came back to action at the Masters in April after taking five months off to deal with the aftershocks of the revelations of his marital infidelities and he placed tied for fourth at Augusta.
He had an identical finish at last month's US Open at Pebble Beach and St Andrews had been the third leg of a golden run of favourite courses for him.
It now looks like he will win none of them, leaving him without a win in a major since the 2008 US Open at Torrey Pines.