Eagle on Closing Hole Helps Woods Pull Away

from The New York Times
September 30, 2006

CHANDLER’S CROSS, England — Tiger Woods had his worst day of the American Express Championship Saturday, but it was still good enough to give him a six-shot lead heading into the final round as he tries for his sixth consecutive victory on the PGA Tour.

With a vociferous gallery behind him at The Grove in this village north of London, Woods followed up his opening rounds of 63 and 64 with a four-under-par 67. The Australian Adam Scott was in second place, and Jim Furyk and Brett Quigley were in third, seven shots off the pace.

Woods has a 37-3 record when he has a lead going into the final round, and he has never given up a final-round lead when leading by more than one shot.

“Anyone who beats Tiger coming from behind is a bit of a legend,” Scott said.

Despite Woods’s gaudy score, he struggled with his putting through much of Saturday’s round. Failing to repeat his flurry of birdies from the first two rounds, Woods puffed out his cheeks in frustration and shoved his club into his bag at one point, walking past his caddie, Steve Williams, while muttering under his breath.

Woods found the bunker on the par-4 third hole before making par, then bogeyed the par-4 eighth, a hole he easily birdied Thursday.

An early rain stopped as Woods headed into the back nine, and he returned to form, capping his round by making eagle on the par-5 18th hole for the third time this week.

“It was a struggle on the greens all day,” Woods said. “Didn’t have the feel, didn’t have the pace, and, consequently, I missed a bunch of short ones early in the round.”

Woods said he kept telling himself to be patient. “I’ll just keeping hitting them up there close, and they’re bound to fall,” he said.

Now he is positioned to win again, returning to form in stroke play after his setbacks over the past two weeks at the HSBC World Match Play and the Ryder Cup.