AUGUSTA, Ga. — After a brilliant Saturday afternoon round at the Masters, Tiger Woods has guaranteed one thing: for the third major championship in a row, he will be in contention on Sunday.
After an inconsistent stretch on the greens Thursday and Friday, Woods made every putt inside 10 feet on Saturday, spurring him to a six-birdie effort that has him in second place heading to Sunday’s final round.
Tiger Woods entered the third round a shot off the lead at six under par. He began his round with four pars in a row before stumbling at the challenging par-4 5th, where he made bogey for the third consecutive day.
No matter: Woods reeled off three consecutive birdies on 6, 7 and 8 to get within one shot of the lead again. And after finding the right trees at No. 9, he punched his second short and left of the green and pitched it inside four feet for a nifty par. The momentum rolled on.
Woods was even more surgical on the back nine, making pars on 10, 11 and 12 in front of a packed Amen Corner crowd. At 13, the gettable par-5, he hit a high draw off the tee that over-drew — but ended up mercifully on grass. He took full advantage, laying up to just outside 70 yards and hitting a neat skipping approach that set up birdie. After a two-putt par at 14, he hit his second at 15 just over the green, but again put his short game on display en route to a kick-in birdie.
In the meantime, other players had surged up the leaderboard. Tony Finau’s eight-under 64 jumped him to 11 under and a temporary share of the lead with Francesco Molinari, who began the day at seven under.
But Woods wasn’t done. He stuffed his tee shot at the par-3 16th, electrifying the fans perched around the green. And when he poured in the deuce for a share of the lead, they roared.
Woods finished off his day with two more lengthy putts that scared the hole at 17 and 18 — but was more than content to tap in for a five-under 67 that left him just one shot out of Francesco Molinari’s lead at the time of his finish.