LOS ANGELES -- Tiger Woods, talking about his four-putt green and other lapses, sounded as if he had just played the worst round of his life.
He still shot a 2-under-par 69 that left him within three shots of tour non-winner David Sutherland, who was atop a logjam of players Saturday after three rounds of the Nissan Open.
Setting the stage for a rousing race to the finish on Sunday, 29 of the 71 players -- including two-time champion Fred Couples and David Duval -- were bunched within three shots of the top at Riviera Country Club.
On a day when many players grumbled about rough, unpredictable greens at Riviera, Woods four-putted from 15 feet for his second double bogey in as many days on No. 13.
"Other than a four-putt and a three-putt and missing a whole bunch of putts and a couple of bad chips and a couple of bad drives, I did all right to hang in there to give myself a chance going into Sunday," said Woods, who also was angered by a photographer on the ninth hole.
Sutherland went to 9-under 204 through 54 holes, one shot in front of a group of six players, including Bob Tway, who shared the second-round lead with Greg Chalmers, and Tommy Armour III.
"I'm not exactly Tiger Woods," said Sutherland, who first played on the tour in 1991 and whose best finish was a tie for second in the 1997 Greater Milwaukee Open.
"I've never been in a position like this in a tournament of this stature. I'll be honest, I want to win this golf tournament and I feel I have a chance."
Sutherland made four birdie putts of 10 feet or closer.
Kevin Sutherland, also a tour non-winner, is only four shots back of his pacesetting brother after a third-round 71.
Although several of the players near the lead complained about the greens, there were 37 rounds played under par on the third day.
Kirk Triplett, whose 68 left him in the group tied for second, said that because of the slope of the greens, "You can get some real interesting putts and become more tentative. It looks like a basketball dribbling down there once in a while."
Couples, who won the tournament in 1990 and 1992 and finished second three times in the decade, shot a 68 and was two strokes off the lead. Duval, ranked No. 2 in the world, shot a 69 and was in a group with world No. 1 Woods at 6-under.
Woods, who began the third round on the back nine at Riviera, slammed his putter down in disgust after finishing No. 13. His first putt rolled 4 feet past the hole, he missed from there, then missed again from about 2 feet.
"I hit a perfect little 9-iron in there, made a good putt that just missed on the left. I hit another good putt and it broke to the left, just the opposite of the first one. The next one, I just pulled it," Woods said.
"Then I tapped in for a nice little four-putt."
He also three-putted No. 17 for a bogey, missing his par putt from 5 feet.
But, after making the turn with a 1-over par 37, he recovered on his second nine with a 3-under 32, thanks in part to hitting the ball within 5 feet of the pin twice to set up birdie putts, which he made.
When a photographer snapped pictures of Woods during the backswing of his approach shot on No. 9, Woods threw his club down after hitting the shot, turned and yelled at a group of photographers trailing him.
"Hey guys, watch it with the pictures while I'm swinging," he said.
His approach shot left him 25 feet from the pin, and he two-putted from there for par. Woods then walked over to a group of photographers and again told them to wait to snap pictures until after he hits the ball.
It was not determined which of the photographers snapped pictures on Woods' backswing, something experienced photographers know not to do.
Woods also lost his putting touch late in the tournament at Torrey Pines last Sunday when he finished in a second-place tie behind Phil Mickelson. Still, Woods is in excellent position to make a run at the Nissan title and win his seventh title in his last eight PGA Tour starts.
"It's not rocket science out there," he said. "You just need to be patient and hopefully I'll give myself a lot of chances for some putts."
Also at 8-under through three rounds were Jesper Parnevik, with a 67; Brandel Chamblee, with a 69; and Rocco Mediate, with a 64. Tway shot a 72, and Armour, whose grandfather finished second in the 1929 Los Angeles Open at Riviera, shot a third-round 69.
Divots: Duval's round included two double bogeys, one bogey and seven birdies. ... In Woods' last victory, Feb. 7 at Pebble Beach, he was seven shots behind Matt Gogel with seven holes to play. Woods finished fast, winding up with an 8-under 64 and winning by two strokes over the fading Gogel, who tied for second with Vijay Singh. ... Casey Martin, who has a circulatory disease in his right leg and is, by court, order, allowed to ride a cart in PGA tournaments, shot his highest score of the three days, a 2-over-par 73 that put him at 1-under 212. ... Before this week, Woods last double bogey or worse was last November in Spain, when he a double bogey in the second round and triple bogey in the third -- and still won.
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