December 03, 2016

Tiger moves into top 10 at Albany with third-round 70

The electricity was back Saturday at Albany.

After capturing the attention of the golf world by shooting a 7-under 65 on Friday in the Hero World Challenge — just his second competitive round in more than 15 months — Tiger Woods birdied four of the first five holes to soar up the leaderboard.

He turned in 4-under 32, but couldn’t sustain his sizzling pace. For the second time in three days, Woods double-bogeyed the par-4 18th hole to finish with a 2-under 70 and stands in 10th place at 8-under 208.

Woods carded seven birdies, two bogeys and a double Saturday. Tiger was thinking 65 again, but struggled down the stretch, finding sand on his last five drives.

“I’m pretty pleased to be back and able to compete at this level again,” Woods said. “It’s been a very, very difficult road. I was really, really struggling, and I struggled for a very long time. I worked with my physios and had to be very patient and was finally able to start building, and here we are.”

Not only has Tiger hit many quality shots, his body has held up.

“Each day I’m feeling a little stronger,” he said.

Paired with Rickie Fowler, Woods birdied the first two holes, knocking it close on the par-4 first and par-3 second. He made it three straight by getting up-and-down from just short of the green at the par-5 third.

Tiger made a nice par save at the par-4 fourth, then found the front bunker at the par-3 fifth. He holed out from the sand for birdie.

Woods lost momentum with a bogey at the par-5 sixth, but regained it quickly by burying an eight-foot birdie putt at the par-4 seventh. He parred Nos. 8 and 9 to turn in 4-under 32 and is a combined 10-under on the front this week.

“If you think about it, I’ve gotten off to some really good starts,” said the five-time winner of the event. “Generally when I come back from layoffs, that’s the most concerning part of the game, is getting off to, I guess, halfway decent starts.”

Woods climbed to 5-under for the round by sinking a 15-foot birdie putt at the par-5 11th. However, he three-putted for a bogey from the fringe at the par-4 13th and missed a six-foot par attempt at the par-4 14th. 

Tiger kept grinding and poured in a 30-footer for birdie at the par-3 17th. But at No. 18, he blocked his drive into the sandy waste area right, then hooked his second shot into a pond on the left and was unable to get up-and-down.

Woods hit six of 13 fairways, 11 of 18 greens and used 26 putts.

All things considered, he is hardly unhappy with his position.

“I really didn’t know what to expect,” he said of his performance. “I hadn’t played in a long time, and I didn’t know how I was going to feel after each round.”

Hideki Matsuyama holds the lead at 19-under, seven strokes ahead of Henrik Stenson, Dustin Johnson and Brandt Snedeker. With just one round remaining, Tiger has not lost any confidence.

He begins final-round play Sunday at 11:31 a.m. ET, and will be partnered with Louis Oosthuizen.