Published: Sun, July 22, 2018
Sport | By Kayla Schwartz

Tiger Woods on the prowl in the third round of Open Championship

Tiger Woods on the prowl in the third round of Open Championship

But it was significant nonetheless.

Woods is the closest he's been to the lead in a major championship since he was two back at Muirfield in 2013. "I'm not surprised. He seemed confident walking off the putting green today, the little that we talked", said Spieth.

"I was trying to play for the grass to wrap the shaft around there and hit it left, and I was just trying to hold the face open as much as I possibly could".

Then three holes later, Woods two-putted for birdie at No. 14 and there he was, right at the top of the giant yellow leaderboards dotted all around Carnoustie, tied for the lead with five players at 6 under.

His ball stayed dry but with 246 yards left to the hole he chose to lay up from the rough before punching a 100-yard wedge to three feet and saving par.

It was his only bogey of the day, but the closing holes at Carnoustie are brutal. After a layup, he hit a terrific third shot to about three feet and tapped in for par, capping a third-round 66. He made a tough par save on the 17th, and then got up-and-down from behind the 18th green for a 68.

He was at least six shots behind Zach Johnson and Kevin Kisner, who took double bogey on the 18th hole, with just under half the field still on the course. "I've made a lot of progress over the year that's been kind of an off year, a building year", said Spieth, who is bogey-free over his last 36 holes.

'However, if the bad weather doesn't come in, then we know we're going to have to shoot eight under par on Sunday'. I tried to do that for the most part. "So 5 [behind] is certainly doable, and especially if we get the forecast tomorrow".

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Woods, who shot 66 on Saturday, is paired with Molinari, two groups behind the final twosome of Spieth and Xander Schauffele. And that led to low scoring and a leaderboard that swayed wildly.

"It's been a few years since I've felt like this", he said after his best score in a major since the 2011 Masters.

His career faced further struggles through injury as Woods had back surgery in 2014, missing the Augusta National the first time, and again in 2015 after missing the cut at three of the year's four majors. A rugged start, a strong recovery, a few putts for birdie, a few he missed for par, and it added to an even-par 71.

After saving par at the first hole with a 15-footer, Woods made birdies at the fourth, sixth and ninth holes to get through the first 9 in 33 strokes.

Spieth had started the round on three under and three shots off the lead, but the eagle took him within one of the pace-setters at the time.

If nothing else, Woods gave himself a boost heading into the final round.

He will try to become the first player since Harrington in 2008 to win golf's oldest championship in consecutive years. "He's very close. I wouldn't put it past him to come back the next couple of months and really be firing".

McIlroy is, like Woods, four back after dropping a shot at the last. "It's going to be fun".

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