Tiger electrifies East Lake
Tiger Woods took a three-shot lead at the TOUR Championship with a 5-under 65 on Saturday
September 22, 2018
By Cameron Morfit, PGATOUR.COM
Tiger Woods' Round 3 highlights from TOUR Championship
ATLANTA – The fans were understandably beside themselves, but they were not the best measure of Tiger Woods’ red-hot start, 6-under for the first seven holes as he shot a third-round 65 to take a three-shot lead at the TOUR Championship at East Lake.
No, his fellow players were the best measure. They couldn’t help but look away from their own games to see what all the commotion was about.
“Unbelievable,” said Tony Finau (67, T6). “It really is. I was looking at the board and it said 6 under through seven; that’s incredible. I played a practice round with him Tuesday and, you know, his ball-striking ability is incredible and you know when he’s making some putts he’s going to make some noise.”
Woods distanced himself from playing partner Justin Rose (68) and even Rory McIlroy, who was one of three players to shoot 66 and is tied with Rose at 9 under, three back.
Kyle Stanley (67) and Jon Rahm (68) were tied for fourth at 6 under, six behind.
“The crowds were electric because of it,” Rose said of Woods’ hot start. “He was running the tables there. He was hitting good shots and making the conversion putts.”
Somehow, Rose regrouped, refusing to let the pandemonium throw him off his game. Still, many others were left shaking their heads at Woods’ front-nine 30, which included a bogey at the brutally hard, 230-yard, par-3 9th hole.
“He was 6 under through seven on, I think, the tougher (nine),” said Paul Casey (66, T6). “I tend not to pay much attention to what’s going on most of the time, but I’ll be honest, it’s been a while since we’ve seen that sort of display from Tiger, so it’s kind of cool to pay attention to it.”
With each sonic boomlet that went up over East Lake, Casey and his caddie, John McLaren, looked at each other and smiled, trying to deduce just how low Woods was going.
“We heard the roar when he was obviously on one,” Casey continued. “We’re like, 'Oh, what’s he done there?' Then another roar, and then he was 10 under and I was like, ‘Hang on, I’ve missed one somewhere.’ It was cool. I mean we all want to win, but when you’re bumbling around at 3- or 4-under-par and he’s now 10, now you’re a spectator, almost.”
Woods had a much less exciting back nine, making one birdie and one bogey.
Afterward, even he was left shaking his head at his turbo-charged front nine.
“Yeah, I got off to a nice start there,” Woods said. “I made some nice putts. Good Lord. I left myself in good spots, too, so I was able to take a run at some of the putts. Other than No. 3, every putt was uphill, so it was nice. I felt like I could free-wheel it, and they went in.”
Woods hit 10 of 14 fairways, a key stat at East Lake, and for the third straight day made over 100 feet of putts. He leads the field in Strokes Gained: Putting (+5.104).
MCILROY EYES BIG FINAL-ROUND PAIRING: The final twosome on the final day of the TOUR Championship at East Lake will offer a study in contrasts, although each man wears the same brand of clothing and each has won the TOUR Championship and the FedExCup.
Tiger Woods is making everything, and is first in Strokes Gained: Putting (+5.104).
Rory McIlroy is making nothing, and is 23rd in SG: Putting (-1.711).
“I gave myself plenty of chances,” McIlroy said, “and I think the biggest thing today was only just that one bogey, and it was a silly bogey from the middle of the (seventh) fairway, as well.
“Five birdies out there, one bogey, it's playing tough,” he added. “Got to put your ball in the fairway, put yourself in position, and for the most part, I did that today.”
McIlroy, who hit 8/14 fairways, hasn’t won since the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard early this season. Woods hasn’t won since the 2013 World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational, but he is 42 for 44 (95 percent) at closing out a victory when he has the outright 54-hole lead.
“Look, he's a notoriously great front-runner,” McIlroy said, “but if I go out and I play similar tomorrow like I did today, I'll have no complaints.”
Rory McIlroy's Round 3 highlights from TOUR Championship
JON RAHM – Missed a 10-footer for birdie on 18, but still has an outside chance after signing for his third straight 68 to get to 6 under, T4 with Kyle Stanley (67) six shots back.
BROOKS KOEPKA – Chased a surprising second-round 78 with a 67.
PHIL MICKELSON – Shot 76 and is in last, continuing to prove this isn’t the place to miss fairways. He’s at 42.86 percent driving accuracy for the week, and -1.959 Strokes Gained: Putting.
DUSTIN JOHNSON – Three-time winner this season was as good as he’s been all week while posting 67 to get to 4-under total and T8. Birdied four of his last six holes.
PATRICK REED – Masters champion’s struggles here continued with a 72 (+8 total).
BRYSON DECHAMBEAU – FedExCup No. 1 and two-time Playoffs winner found some game as he hit 8/14 fairways, his best of the week, and holed out from the fairway for eagle at the 17th hole while shooting a 4-under 66. He’s still 2-over for the week, though.
Jon Rahm’s clutch birdie putt on No. 4 at TOUR Championship
QUOTABLESHe was running the tables.He’s a notoriously great front-runner.I’ve heard the roars all day … what an atmosphere.
Low round: 5-under 65 by Tiger Woods, his second of the week.
Longest drive: 368 yards (Jason Day/No. 3)
Longest putt: 77’ 1” (Keegan Bradley/No. 13 for birdie)
Toughest hole: The 230-yard par-3 9th (3.300).
Easiest hole: The 533-yard par-5 6th (4.167) had four eagles, 17 birdies and no bogeys.
CALL OF THE DAY
For play-by-play coverage of the final round of the TOUR Championship, listen at PGATOUR.COM.
SHOT OF THE DAY
Shot of the Day
Bryson DeChambeau's eagle for Shot of the Day