Doral: American Patrick Reed will take a two shot lead into the final round of the WGC-Cadillac Championship while Tiger Woods stormed into contention with the lowest round of the tournament on Saturday.
With the punishing winds that created havoc on Friday giving way to calm conditions, the Blue Monster course lost much of its bite allowing emboldened golfers to attack the pins.
Reed, who had a share of the four-way overnight lead, fired a three-under 69 to secure a two-shot advantage over compatriots Jason Dufner (68) and Hunter Mahan (71) into Sunday.
The 23-year-old, however, might be looking a little further down the leaderboard where Woods is one shot further back after a sizzling 66 left the world number one well-placed to make a run at an unprecedented eighth WGC-Cadillac title.
Rory McIlroy, who had briefly held the lead, made a bogey at the third that started a slide which included double-bogeys at eight and 10 which left the Northern Irishman with a three-over 75 and seven off the pace.
“That’s fine. I’ve seen Tiger a lot on the driving range,” said Reed, when asked how he would feel see Woods in his Sunday red shirt in front of him. “Never had the opportunity to play with him and I still haven’t been able to play with him.
After a gruelling second round described as a survival test, smiling players basked in nearly ideal conditions on Saturday under a brilliant south Florida sun.
While no golfer produced a round in the 60s on Friday, nine did on Saturday with 27 breaking par compared to three a day earlier.
Woods was six behind the leaders when play began on Saturday before he mixed eight birdies with two bogeys to get to one-under for the tournament.
“It was nice to get back in the tournament again,” smiled Woods. “I held it together yesterday, a long day, a long, tough day and that gave me a chance today.
“I figured, hey, I’m only six back, that’s definitely do-able, especially with the conditions and how difficult this golf course is playing. “If I just get back to even par for the tournament, I’ll be right there and I did one better.”
The 14-time Major winner carded birdies at the first and third and while he made bogey at the fourth, the world No. 1 continued to claw his way up the board with two more birdies at five and nine.
His rally continued through the turn with back-to-back birdies at 11 and 12 that brought out a Woods’ fist pump.
A bogey at the 13th was only a hiccup as he nailed a 35-foot birdie on 15 followed by another at 16 that put him a one-under alongside Briton Jamie Donaldson (71).
In contrast to Woods’ blazing start, Reed sat on one over through seven holes until catching fire with an eagle on the par five eighth, which was followed by birdies at 10 and 11.