For fans waiting for Tiger Woods to tee off on Saturday morning, a two-hour fog delay was a bit of a nuisance. For Woods, it couldn’t have worked out any better.
By the time the fog had burned off at Torrey Pines, the temperatures had warmed up. Under sunny skies, Woods was able to start a charge up the leaderboard at the Farmers Insurance Open as he chases what would be a remarkable eighth title in this event and his ninth win at Torrey.
If Thursday’s start was ginger and Friday’s start disastrous, then Saturday’s start was explosive. All the parts of Woods’ game, and particularly his putter, seemed to be firing. He repeatedly bombed the new TaylorMade SIM driver he put in the bag this week, then gave himself looks at birdie. His 3-under 69 tied his opening round on the North Course for his best score of the week and moved him to 7 under.
Tiger Woods acknowledges the crowd after chipping in for par on the fourth green during the third round of the Farmers Insurance Open. (Photo: Orlando Ramirez, USA TODAY Sports)
Woods ignited a roar from the gallery as he blasted his opening approach out of a fairway bunker and onto the green. He jarred a birdie putt from inside 15 feet and by the time he reached the sixth hole, he had logged two more and was 3 under on his round. He had even chipped in for par from behind the fourth green to keep the momentum going.
“I think that most of my putts that I made were all uphill,” Woods told CBS after his round. “It’s important to leave the ball in the correct spots and when I did, I poured them in there.”
Woods added a final birdie at No. 9 – tapping in from just a few feet after his pitch shot flew over the flag then sucked back toward the hole – and when he turned with a 4-under 32, he was only two shots behind the leaders, who had just started their rounds.
The pace slowed on the back nine, as Woods bogeyed No. 11, then failed to log another birdie for the duration of the round. He wasted an opportunity at the par-5 18th with an uncharacteristic drive that went way left in a fairway bunker. After blasting out safely, he blew his approach over the back of the green in another bunker, but got out easily enough and drained a 15-footer to save par.
It was the longest putt he made all day, and could be a game changer come Sunday.
“It was important to make that putt to salvage the round there toward the end and get some kind of positive momentum going into tomorrow,” Woods told CBS.
Woods never could get closer than two shots off the lead, but considering that he had started the day six shots back, it was forward progress. The real question is what kind of magic Woods can muster in the final round. He’ll need to capitalize on every opportunity to turn a good week into a winning week.
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