August 22, 2015

Tiger two back heading into final round at Wyndham

Tiger Woods put himself in good position to win for the 80th time on the PGA TOUR on Saturday at the 76th Wyndham Championship at hot and humid Sedgefield Country Club in Greensboro, North Carolina.

Despite a disappointing three-putt bogey at the par-4 18th hole — his only bogey of the round — Woods shot a 2-under-par 68 and is tied for second, two strokes behind leader and long-time friend Jason Gore. Tiger has posted scores of 65-66-68 and is at 13-under 197, while Gore shot a sizzling 62 on Saturday and is at 195.

“It was a grind today,” said Woods, who began the third round tied for first place with rookie Tom Hoge. “Like yesterday, I kept leaving myself above the hole, seemed like on every hole. I had to putt so defensively because of it. I just didn’t put myself in the right spots.”

Tiger hit many quality shots, several with his driver, but never warmed up the greens. Although he hit 11 of 14 fairways and 14 of 18 greens, and gave himself plenty of good birdie chances, he managed only three birdies – one a two-putt – and used a week-high 31 putts.

The longest putt he made came at the par-4 10th hole, where he poured in a 21-footer to save par. However, he was aggressive all day and converted several tough par putts until 18.

“I hit a good putt,” he said of the five-footer. “Just hung in there at the end and lipped out. But, overall, I thought I made a lot of putts today for pars. Unfortunately, they were all for par from six feet on in.”

Paired with Hoge in the final twosome, Woods ignited many of the estimated 32,000 spectators early by rolling in a nine-foot birdie putt at the par-4 first hole. He made another at the 529-yard par-5 fifth, where he reached the green in two and two-putted from 54 feet.

Woods made pars the rest of the side to make the turn in 2-under 33.

After the big save at No. 10, Tiger gave himself three good birdie opportunities in a row at 11, 12 and 13, but nothing fell. Following a good two-putt par at 14, he lashed a long drive at the par-5 15th, a hole he eagled Friday, and cut a 3-iron from 238 yards. The ball came up short in the right greenside bunker, where he splashed eight feet past the pin and missed the birdie putt.

Woods finally broke through at the 158-yard par-3 16th, where he covered the flag with a towering 9-iron and the ball finished nine feet behind the hole. The putt was quick, but Tiger stroked it into the center of the cup.

At the par-4 17th, Woods found the fairway with an iron off the tee and was left with 135 yards to the uphill green. His second shot landed on the front-left portion of the putting surface, then rolled backwards down a slope, leaving a touchy chip. Tiger clipped it well, but the ball still slid six feet past the cup, leaving a slick, downhill putt. He buried it for par.

Woods crushed a 349-yard drive on the 501-yard 18th, the second-toughest on the course, leaving an uphill shot of 152 yards. He hit a poor approach shot 39 feet short of the cup and paid for it, snapping a streak of 28-straight holes without a bogey.

As a result, Tiger was knocked out of the final pairing on Sunday with Gore, who he grew up playing junior golf against in southern California. Woods, seeking his first victory since 2013, will tee off in the second-to-last twosome with Scott Brown at 1:55 p.m. ET.

It figures to be a shootout. Fourteen players lurk within four shots of Gore.

“It’s not a golf course in which you can sit back and make a bunch of pars and expect to win,” Tiger said. “You got to get it.”