Saturday 23 September 2017

Signs of promise but Tiger Woods falters on back nine in Bahamas

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Tiger Woods failed to turn a brilliant start into a round which would have put him in contention at the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas, but there were more positives signs as he continued his competitive comeback.

Having shot an impressive 65 on Friday, the 14-time major winner picked up where he left off with four birdies in the first five holes of his third round to get to 11 under for the tournament, which he is hosting.

However, his game fell away on the back nine as trouble off the tee - he found sand with his final five shots with driver or three wood - saw him fall back to eight under, 11 shots behind leader Hideki Matsuyama.

It was a disappointing finish to a round which began so promisingly and even included some of the old Tiger magic as he holed a bunker shot on the fifth for birdie.

A three-putt at the next saw him card his first bogey in 24 holes but he immediately got the dropped shot back at the next and turned in 32 at 10 under, which was improved by a birdie at the 11th.

Things started to go awry from there as bogeys at the 13th and 14th brought his momentum to a shuddering halt and, even when he sank a lengthy birdie putt at the penultimate hole, he double-bogeyed the 18th for the second time in three attempts after going in the water, this time with his approach.

"For three straight days I've got off to great starts - two of the days I didn't continue it but I am so happy to be out here. I missed it," Woods told the Golf Channel after a round of 70.

"One thing I've been good at over the years has been eliminating the noise, trying to keep that at bay, and coming back for this one in particular there was a lot and I had to stay focused on what I needed to do.

"My mind was able to switch over in competitor mode again and that felt great.

"The plan is to get back playing a full schedule. Every day this week I have felt better and that is exciting because I didn't know what that would feel like."

Matsuyama shot his second 65 of the week to lift him to 19 under and open up an impressive seven-stroke lead over Open champion Henrik Stenson, whose 66 catapulted him into a share of second place with US Open champion Dustin Johnson, who carded a disappointing 72.

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