Tiger Woods took another step toward showing his game is nearly back. He ran off five birdies in a six-hole stretch early in his round at Pebble Beach and had 5-under 67 that put him four shots behind going into the final round, the closest he has been to the 54-hole lead in a regular PGA Tour event since the 2010 Masters Tournament.
With a new swing, it’s starting to look like the old Tiger.
“But the scenario doesn’t change,” Woods said. “The ultimate goal is to win a golf tournament.”
That’s something Wi has never done in 162 PGA Tour events. Wi, who is at 15-under 199, has a 54-hole lead for only the second time on tour. He had a one-shot lead at Colonial last year and was runner-up to David Toms.
This time, Wi will be in the last group with someone in a familiar spot. Ken Duke, who is winless in 142 starts on the PGA Tour, shot 65 at Monterey Peninsula.
The past two weeks haven’t been too kind to 54-hole leaders.
Kyle Stanley lost a five-shot lead at Torrey Pines, and Spencer Levin blew a six-shot lead the following week in the Phoenix Open. Both were going for their first PGA Tour win.
Your turn, Charlie.
“I haven’t really thought about that,” Wi said, when asked if it were a blessing or a burden to be in front. “But I enjoy being in the lead. It’s a lot more fun than trying to come from behind. I know that tonight is going to be very exciting, and I’m sure I won’t sleep as well as if I’m in 50th place. But that’s what we play for, and I’m really excited.”
Along with Woods in the hunt, Phil Mickelson managed to stay in contention despite playing the par 5s at Pebble Beach in 1-over par. He saved par on the 18th for 70. That put him in a tie for fourth, six shots behind, and set up a date with Woods in the second-to-last pairing.
Padraig Harrington was chasing the lead until a sloppy finish at Spyglass Hill – a bogey on the par-5 seventh, and a double bogey on the eighth. He had to settle for 72 and dropped seven shots behind in a tie for ninth.
Even so, it served up quite the finale for today’s final round.