MIAMI, United States, Feb 25 – Tiger Woods fired a one-under par 69 in the third round of the Honda Classic on Saturday, and said the first sub-70 round of his comeback gives him a shot at leader Luke List.
List carded a four-under par 66 at PGA National for a seven-under par total of 203.
Woods, seven shots back on even par 210, insisted he wasn’t out of the running on the demanding course in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.
“I put myself where I’ve got a shot going into tomorrow,” Woods said. “I’m going to have to shoot something under par for sure. If I can go ahead and post a number early, you just never know.”
The 14-time major champion notched his first score in the 60s in nine rounds this year.
In fact, it’s his first score in the 60s on the US PGA Tour since he carded a 68 in the third round of the 2015 Wyndham Championship.
Since then, debilitating back trouble had seen Woods largely sidelined. He missed all of 2016 before an abortive comeback bid in 2017 ended with spinal fusion surgery last April.
So far in his latest comeback he’s finished tied for 23rd at Torrey Pines and missed the cut last week in Los Angeles.
But Saturday’s round had him feeling optimistic.
“That’s probably the highest score I could have shot today,” Woods said. “I really hit it good.”
Woods who hit nine of 14 fairways and 13 of 18 greens in regulation.
“The hard part has been trying to get the ball to go in the hole,” Woods said. “These greens are a little tricky.”
Woods made his first birdie at the eighth, where he was in the fairway off the tee and struck his approach within six feet. The birdie putt him just three shots off the lead.
– List birdies the last –
After he was unable to convert birdie chances at 10 and 11, he rolled in a 20-footer to save par at the 12th.
He drained a 14-footer for birdie at 13, but was in the rough off the tee at the par-three 15th and was unable to get up and down for par after his chip caught the fringe.
He missed the green en route to a bogey at 17, but rebounded with a birdie on the par-five 18th despite finding a fairway bunker off the tee.
List seized sole possession of the lead with a birdie from a greenside bunker at the par-five 18th — rebounding from a bogey at 17.
His second straight 66 put him one stroke in front of reigning PGA Champion Justin Thomas and former US Open winner Webb Simpson.
Thomas’s five-under 65 was a seven-stroke improvement on his second-round 72. Simpson, who also shot 72 on Friday, carded a 66.
“The course played a fair bit easier, not as much wind,” said Thomas, who had four of his six birdies on PGA National’s tough back nine. “I’m playing real well, I just had a little more to show for it today.”