Woods signed for a 1-under 69, his first sub 70 score since 2015, a round he described as ‘probably the highest score I could have shot today’ but seven shots and 10 players stand between he and List with one round remaining.
A spectacular birdie at PGA National’s 18th secured List a one-shot cushion over World Number Four Justin Thomas and 2012 US Open winner Webb Simpson but there are a host of world class players in the top 10.
England’s tommy Fleetwood made a stunning eagle at the 18th to among the group at 5-under and T4 while first round leader Alex Noren improved 10 shots on his Friday 75 to also be within two.
Woods’ even par total has him in a share of 11th place and while victory seems unlikely it is not an absurd notion and certainly one he seems to be considering.
“Well, I’m going to have to do something under par for sure,” he said when asked after his round to rate his chances of a first title since 2012.
“You never know what can happen the last few holes here. A lot of things can happen and have happened in the past.
“First of all, I need to go and post a number. I’m going to be far enough ahead of the leaders, probably 45 minutes or an hour; if I can go ahead and post a number early, almost reminiscent so what I did with Rory, you never know, and wait and see what happens.”
The McIlroy comment refers to 2012 when Woods started the final round nine shots adrift of the Northern Irishman but fired a stunning 8-under 62 to almost snatch victory.
Such heroics would seem a stretch for Woods this early in his comeback from four back surgeries but there is no question his game this week has been vastly improved.
Only a cold putter stopped him going low Saturday and regardless of tomorrow’s outcome his confidence certainly seems to have grown after a good week at one of the most difficult course the players face all year.
“You know, today was the best I’ve hit it,” he said. “And I thought yesterday was pretty good, but today was a little better.
“I really, really hit it good. I just didn’t get anything to go in there for most of the early part of the round. I gave myself plenty of looks, I just didn’t make anything.”
Like Woods Adam Scott produced his best round of the week Saturday with a 3-under 67 jumping him 38 places up the leaderboard.
At 2-over the 2016 champion will begin the final round in a share of 21st place and if he can produce some fireworks tomorrow could easily play his way into the top 10.
The other Australian in the field, Greg Chalmers, shot an even par 70 Saturday to remain 5-over but move up 13 places to T46.
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