Tiger Woods posted his lowest round in a major championship since 2011 during the third round at Carnoustie on Saturday - and feels he has a chance to win his 15th major title.
Tiger Woods was never going to post a third successive 71. He’s made a habit of making a charge on the often dubbed 'moving day', to the extent that he leads the PGA Tour in third round scoring average.
He admitted after his round yesterday that he needed something special, which is exactly what he delivered as he tied the lead at 4pm after making six birdies in his opening 14 holes.
Alas, others around him pulled clear while he dropped back to five-under-par, but a round of 66 was enough to keep his name on the first page of the leaderboard and convince him that he can end a 10-year Major drought.
“I'm right there,” he said. I've got a chance at this, which is great.
“I've shown that I've been there close enough with a chance to win this year. Given what happened last few years, I didn't know if that would ever happen again, but here I am with a chance coming Sunday in a major championship. It's going to be fun.
“It would be nice if there weren't a lot of guys between myself and the lead, but not the way this golf course was going to set up. We knew there were going to be 10, 12 guys with a chance to win on Sunday, and it's turning out to be that.
"I didn't want to be too far back if the guys got to 10 today. Five is certainly doable, especially if we get the forecast tomorrow.”
Tiger's biggest – and perhaps only – regret was a careless three putt on the par-3 16th, which typified another mixed day on the greens.
Ditching his Scotty Cameron, for so long a trusty servant, in favour of a TaylorMade TP Ardmore 3 was supposed to herald a change of fortune. But so far this week, he’s averaged 30 putts. Not bad, but not up to Tiger’s usual standard.
The misses – of which there were half a dozen ‘makeable’ putts – were greeted with disdain and a cacophony of curse words too severe to print.
If there was any anger, it was largely tempered by his quality of ball striking, which was a throwback to the Tiger of old.
No player has hit more fairways off the tee. The driver, when it did make a rare appearance, behaved itself and even turned the 382-yard 11th into a simple two putt for birdie.
“It’s been a few years since I’ve felt like this,” he said in response to how his swing feels. “I felt like I had control of the ball all day.”
That was until he reached the 18th and sent a low stinger veering dangerously close to the Barry Burn. One hop left and it would have dropped in, but Tiger was never going to sign off without a bang. A layup was greeted with groans, but perhaps Kevin Kisner would have benefited from doing likewise yesterday.
He went for it and ended up making six. Tiger, on the other hand, took the safe route and promptly spun his wedge shot to within gimmie range to get up and down and send another roar circling down the course.
“I played well today,” he added. “I really did. I hit a lot of good shots. I really didn't feel like I made a bad swing until 18. I really felt like I had control of the golf ball today. And on top of that, I made some longer putts, which was nice.”
Tiger, who tees off alongside Francesco Molinari at 14.25 on Sunday, sits just four shots adrift of the leaders. If he wins, he will not only inch closer to Jack Nicklaus' record of 18 Majors but also tie his number of Open titles.