Tiger Woods is 3 shots ahead and one round away from capping his comeback season with a moment that has defined his career.
Woods played the most dynamic golf he has all year Saturday with six birdies in his opening seven holes to build a 5-shot lead. He cooled from there with a few mistakes and had to settle for a 5-under 65 and a 3-shot lead over Rory McIlroy and Justin Rose in the Tour Championship in Atlanta.
He has the 54-hole lead for the first time since his last victory in 2013 at the Bridgestone Invitational. He has never lost an official tournament when leading by more than 2 shots going into the final round, and his closing record with the lead is 42-2 on the PGA Tour.
Woods has never been in better position to show he’s all the way back from four back surgeries that once made him fear he might never play again.
“I’ve gone through a lot this year to get myself to this point, and understanding and fighting my way through it,” Woods said. “I’m certainly much more equipped than I was in March because of what I’ve gone through.”
Woods was at 12-under 198 and will be paired for the first time in final group with McIlroy on the PGA Tour.
McIlroy birdied two of his last three holes for a 66.Rose started the third round tied with Woods, but not for long.
Rose opened with two straight bogeys before battling back, but the world’s No. 1 player already was 4 shots behind after four holes. He narrowed the gap with a birdie on the 16th as Woods had to scramble for bogey, a 2-shot swing.
“In some ways, it felt like a Sunday just with the energy,” Rose said after a 68. “But I knew that it was halfway through a Saturday. Just wanted to sort of chisel a few back and give myself a chance going into tomorrow.”European Tour Tom Lewis came within two shots of tying English countryman Oliver Fisher's European Tour record on another day of low scoring at the Portugal Masters.
Lewis returned a 10-under 61 in the third round, just 24 hours after Fisher carded the first 59 on the circuit. Lewis moved to 2 strokes behind leader Lucas Herbert of Australia.Herbert, who is playing off invites this season as he looks to earn his full tour playing privileges, shot a 64 for a 19-under total of 194.
Fisher took 10 more strokes than he did on Friday and was in a group on 14-under 199.