PALM BEACH GARDENS, FLORIDA | After PGA National left the field bruised during the first two rounds of the Honda Classic, the ferocious bear decided to take an afternoon rest.
Make no mistake – the Bear Trap claimed its fair share of victims on another warm, windy day in sun-splashed South Florida – but it didn’t resort to cruel and unusual punishment. Right from the very beginning of the day, the leaders made birdies and put a fair bit of distance between themselves and most of the pack.
Tiger Woods, who had grinded his way to a 1-over total through two rounds, looked steady in his third round, finishing with a 1-under 69. He parred his first seven holes of the day before hitting a close approach to six feet on the par-4 8th to set up his first birdie of the day. After an important par save on No. 12, he made a 15-foot putt for birdie on No. 13 to start challenging the leaders.
It was short-lived, however. He went well left on Nos. 15 and 17, avoiding the water but ultimately making bogey on each hole. He finished with a birdie on the par-5 18th.
The 69 moved him up the leaderboard to the fringes of the top-10. It also left him at even par for the tournament, trailing the likes of Jamie Lovemark, Webb Simpson, Luke List and Justin Thomas.
After the round, Woods remarked that it was “the highest score he possibly could have shot” given that he hit 13 of 18 greens but often struggled on the greens.”
“I really hit it good and I really had nice control of it today,” Woods said. “If I could have just made a few more putts on that front nine, I could have got my round started, but I didn’t get the round started until the par putt at 12.”
Heading into Sunday, Woods will have an opportunity to notch his best finish this year. He was tied for 23rd in the Farmers Insurance Open last month and missed the cut three weeks later at the Genesis Open.
Woods nearly completed a nine-stroke comeback in the Honda Classic six years ago, shooting a Sunday 62 that narrowly missed chasing down Rory McIlroy. He will try to recreate that magic Sunday as he hopes to overcome a similar margin.
“Overall, I feel very pleased to shoot something in the red,” Woods said. “I have a chance going into tomorrow.”