After three rounds, Tiger Woods remains in the lead at the 2013 Northwestern Mutual World Challenge following an even-par 70 on Saturday. The 37-year-old star stayed at 11 under and is two shots ahead of Zach Johnson.
The round could have been much worse for Woods, as he birdied Nos. 16 and 18 to get back to even par. The birdie on 18 came after a great approach, which set up a makeable putt on his third shot.
Although Woods wasn't as imperious in the third round as he was on Friday, he did enough to ensure that the lead was his going into the final day. A similar performance in the final round should mean Woods lifts the trophy on Sunday.
A lead after three rounds wasn't a sure thing for Woods. Both he and Johnson were exchanging the top spot at various points on the back nine, per Golf Channel's Kelly Tilghman:
Crazy day at Sherwood. Zach Johnson takes Tiger's lead, goes bogey, double to lose it. Tiger 3 putts from 5 ft to trim lead from 3 to 1— Kelly Tilghman (@KellyTilghmanGC) December 7, 2013
Johnson would have another double-bogey, which came on No. 15, that killed any chance he could regain the lead.
To be fair, GolfChannel.com's Jason Sobel noted how much trouble 15 has been giving everybody the entire tournament:
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
Looking back, Johnson will likely be frustrated he wasn't able to make up any ground on Woods. He was striking the ball well. Too many times, though, he had bad shanks that cost him valuable strokes.
Here's a look at the top half of the leaderboard heading into the final round.
As Sky Sports Golf pointed out, Bubba Watson was one of the biggest winners on Saturday:
As we move towards the close of play @bubbawatson appears to be the big mover of the day shooting 69. Currently within two of leader Woods.— Sky Sports Golf (@SkySportsGolf) December 7, 2013
The 2012 Masters champion has been consistent throughout the tournament. He posted 70s in the first two rounds and then a 69 in Round 3.
Watson did a great job of closing, as he saved his best golf for the back nine. His front nine wasn't all bad, as he had this fantastic chip on No. 3.
Watson looks to be the only guy outside of Woods and Johnson who could win the tournament. Four strokes back, he still has a lot of work to do, but you don't want to count him out completely.
One of the biggest losers on the day was Matt Kuchar. Coming into the third round, he was at eight under and in position to give Woods and Johnson a fight.
Things started well enough for the 35-year-old, with birdies on the first two holes. It was on No. 4 that the wheels would begin falling off for Kuchar. He bogeyed the hole and would continue struggling from there. Five more bogeys later, Kuchar was at four under for the tournament and a long ways off from Woods.
There's virtually no way he'll figure in the final outcome on Sunday.
The final day should be a lot of fun. Woods and Johnson look poised to put on another good head-to-head battle, while you never know if somebody lower down on the leaderboard could make a late push.