Thousand Oaks: Tiger Woods, with a renewed swagger in his step, was poised to cap a turbulent year on a high note after maintaining a four-shot lead in Saturday’s third round of the Chevron World Challenge.
Seeking his first tournament win since the 2009 Australian Masters, the former world number one recovered from a faltering start to fire a four-under-par 68 at Sherwood Country Club.
Boosted by a three-birdie run on the front nine and two more in the last three holes, Woods closed in on his fifth victory at his own event by posting a 17-under total of 199.
He struck a superb eight-iron approach at the par-four last to within a foot, sparking huge roars from the gallery watching from the natural amphitheatre below the imposing clubhouse.
His playing partner, U.S. Open champion Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland, was alone in second after carding a 68 with Englishman Paul Casey (69) a further four shots back in third.
“I’m excited about tomorrow because of the way I’ve been playing,” Woods told reporters after putting himself in prime position to complete his first wire-to-wire victory since the 2006 WGC-American Express Championship.
“I’m excited how I’ve been hitting the golf ball and how I’ve been managing my game around this golf course.”
Woods has never lost a tournament in which he has led by at least three strokes going into the final round and he has coped well this week on Sherwood’s lightning-fast greens.
“It was a pretty good day overall,” said the 14-times major winner, who embarked on the fourth swing change of his career in August, a move which now seems to paying dividends.
“I thought I hit the ball a little bit better than I did yesterday. The greens were tough and a few more difficult pins today so they were tough to get at.
“But four under is a good score. I tied Graeme today, so no loss between my lead.”