March 18, 2018

Tiger Ends Round 3 Tied For 10th

ORLANDO, Fla. – Pleased with his ball-striking and scoring, Tiger Woods lifted himself into final-round contention for the third straight start on Saturday at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

“Can’t complain about anything I did,” said Woods after firing a 3-under-par 69 at toasty Bay Hill Club & Lodge, a round that included six birdies and three bogeys.

Woods is tied for 10th at 7-under 209. Henrik Stenson leads at 12-under 204.

“I’m within reach,” he said.

Extending his par or better streak to nine consecutive rounds, Woods slipped early with a bogey at the par-3 second, but rebounded quickly with birdies on three of the next four holes. He rolled in a 38-footer at the par-4 third and made a testy sixteen-foot slider the par-5 fourth.

After a nice sand save at the par-4 fifth, Woods tallied his third birdie at the par-5 sixth. He dropped a shot at the par-4 ninth to turn in 1-under 35.

Once again, Woods recovered quickly, regaining the lost stroke at the par-4 11th by making a 10-foot birdie putt.

Following a nice par save at 14, Woods drove into the fairway bunker at the par-5 6th and considered laying up short of the water with a sand wedge. He ball came to rest near the lip of a finger jetting out, but after consulting with caddie Joe LaCava, Woods opted to be aggressive. He hoisted a sweet iron over palm trees and water and the ball finished 15 feet from the flag, setting up a stress-free two-putt birdie.

“I started that ball a little bit right of the flag, the lip was a little bit lower and I’m like, ‘OK, as far back as I am, I can take a chance, but at least at I had a little bit of room to the right side,’ ” he said. “So I went ahead and tried to pull it off and I hit a good one.”

Woods caught a tough break at the par-3 17th, where his tee shot came up just short of the green, resulting in a fried egg in the bunker. He blasted past the hole and sustained a bogey.

But Woods finished strong. He lashed a 320-yard 3-wood into the fairway at the par-4 18th, then flagged a short iron 12 feet above the pin and swished the birdie putt, prompting his patented fist pump.

“That was a nice one to get,” said Woods, an eight-time winner of the tournament. “Maybe a low one tomorrow will give me a chance to kind of steal one from behind.”

The furthest Woods has come from behind to win after 54 holes at Bay Hill was five strokes in 2009.

“I’m not really thinking as much as I was initially,” he said. “I’m just playing shots, playing holes, playing angles. All these things are becoming more intuitive, which is great, because if you look at the last two days I’ve missed the golf ball in the perfect position on almost every shot.”

Last week at the Valspar Championship, Woods tied for second, his best finish on the PGA Tour since a tie for 10th at the 2015 Wyndham Championship.

On Sunday, Woods tees off at 1:30 p.m. ET with Bud Cauley, 50-minutes before the final twosome of Stenson and Bryson DeChambeau. Woods is seeking his 80th Tour victory, second only to Sam Snead with 82.

“I’m going to have to shoot a low one tomorrow and probably get a little bit of help,” Woods said. “But my responsibility is to go out there and shoot a low one first.”