Doral: An on-fire Tiger Woods will take a four-stroke lead over Graeme McDowell into Sunday’s final round of the WGC-Cadillac Championship after shooting a five-under-par 67 at Doral on Saturday.
Woods, searching for his 76th PGA Tour victory, finished his third round in fine style with a 16-foot birdie putt on the 18th, highlighting his outstanding work on the greens so far in the tournament.
The 14-times Major winner finished the day at 18-under for a 198 total, while McDowell’s three-under par 69 put him on 14-under at 202.
The debate over whether Woods is “back” will not be over until he wins a major championship again, but on this display he will be the favourite, on form and not just reputation, at the Masters next month.
Woods, who won in January at Torrey Pines, has made 24 birdies through 54 holes — a personal record at this stage in a tournament and he has never lost a final round where he has led by three or more strokes.
“He putted fantastically today,” said playing partner McDowell. “He controlled every part of his game very well, very few loose shots. He's going to be a tough man to catch tomorrow.”
World No. 1 Rory McIlroy made six birdies as he recovered from a poor start of a bogey on the third and a double-bogey on the next hole.
McIlroy, still feeling his way back to form after intensive work on his swing, carded a one-under 71 and is three-under for the tournament, 15 strokes behind Woods and tied in 30th place.
Woods, who started with a two-stroke lead over McDowell, began his round in blistering fashion by collecting birdies on his first three holes and added four more before heading to the clubhouse with only two blemishes on his card, a bogey on the fifth and on the 17th.
The bogey on the penultimate hole came courtesy of a freak incident where his ball stuck in the top of a palm tree, forcing him to take unplayable lie and a penalty stroke.
Woods was powerful and mostly accurate off the tee but also was outstanding with his short irons. McDowellmade an equally lightning start with an eagle on the first and a birdie on the third, reaching the turn at four-under.