Following Friday’s 10-under 62 was nearly impossible, but Tiger Woods’ even-par 72 was enough to remain in the lead on a blustery Saturday after the third round of the Northwestern Mutual World Challenge.
He struggled to a one-over performance on the front nine but gathered himself on the back nine to remain in control heading into the final round at Sherwood CC in Thousand Oaks, Calif.
On Friday, everything Tiger did was almost perfect. His third-round performance was simply human.
Here’s a look at Tiger’s third-round scorecard.
Zach Johnson and Bubba Watson provided the most consistent challenge to Woods on the day. Luckily for Woods, conditions ill-suited for low scores ensured no contenders were able to move ahead of him on Saturday’s final leaderboard.
Here's a look at the top portion of the leaderboard heading into Sunday.
|1||Tiger Woods||-11||E (72)|
|2||Zach Johnson||-9||E (72)|
|3||Bubba Watson||-7||-3 (69)|
|4||Matt Kuchar||-4||4 (76)|
|5||Webb Simpson||-3||-3 (69)|
Highlights of Tiger's Day
Things started pretty well for Woods. After registering a par on the first hole, he made this bunker shot look easy on the second hole.
It set up a birdie and quickly put him one under for the day. That advantage on the course wouldn’t last long, though. Woods found the hazard on the fourth hole and had to settle for a bogey.
More issues arose on the eighth hole. Woods bogeyed the par three and ultimately finished the front nine one over. His missteps temporarily allowed Johnson to pass him on the leaderboard.
After 10-birdie effort Friday, Tiger has 2 bogeys and 1 birdie thru 9 holes to fall a stroke behind Zach Johnson at Sherwood.— Bob Harig (@BobHarig) December 7, 2013
Woods quickly got on track on the back nine. He birdied the 10th hole with this solid 123-foot second shot that set up a difficult eight-foot birdie putt.
After pars on the 11th and 12th holes, Woods faltered on the 13th. He three-putted the par-five hole after seemingly losing concentration on two makeable putts within five feet of the hole. He had a chance to create some distance between himself and Johnson here, but he squandered the opportunity.
The 15th hole had wreaked havoc on players all day. When Woods tee’d off there, eight players had already hit their first shot in the water. Woods avoided the hazard, but his tee shot left him a ways away from the flag. His second shot was well short and left him with a lengthy par putt.
Final tally at 15th hole today: 18 players, 11 balls in the hazard. Might not be any grass left in the drop zone.— Jason Sobel (@JasonSobelGC) December 7, 2013
He made a great effort, but the putt was just a little to the left. Considering the results others had to deal with on the 15th, the bogey wasn’t that bad for Woods. He still had a two-shot lead heading into the 16th hole.
Woods re-established himself and solidified his lead on this par five. His accurate tee shot and even better second shot gave him a shot at an eagle. He missed that putt but secured the birdie on the next shot.
After coasting, remaining in the lead after an even-par performance, Woods has to feel good about a two-shot lead after three rounds.
Looking Ahead to Sunday
It’s a three-horse race heading into the final day of play. Woods, Johnson and Watson are separated by just three shots. Per weather.com, conditions will remain cool with a high of 56 degrees, but the winds should decrease from 15 miles per hour on Saturday to just six for the final round.
The conditions would seemingly set the stage for lower scores. Can Woods hold off Watson and Johnson? Stay tuned for coverage on the final day on Sunday.