Tiger Woods shoots 3-under 69 in third round of Arnold Palmer Invitational
After opening rounds of 68 and 72, Woods posted a 3-under 69 in the third round, thanks to six birdies against three bogeys.
"I played well, scored well, it was a good day all around," Woods said. "Can't complain about anything I did today. I really hit the ball solidly, I controlled it, and I hit a lot of beautiful putts. Some went in, some didn't."
That overall total of 7-under, though, leaves him a handful of strokes behind leader? Henrik Stenson, with contenders like Rickie Fowler, Justin Rose, Patrick Reed and Rory McIlroy?in between.?
Woods added a few electric moments to his personal highlight reel Saturday. On the third hole, he dropped in a sidewinding 38-foot birdie putt to negate the previous hole's bogey. On the 11th, he hit a laser from 186 yards to inside 10 feet and made the putt. And on the par-5 16th, with his ball just below the fairway bunker lip, he decided against laying up, then flew trees over water to find the green, later two-putting for another birdie.
"I went in there with sand wedge initially just to lay up," he said. "But as I looked at it, if I started that ball a little bit right of the flag, the lip was a little bit lower and I'm like, 'OK, well, right now now I'm as far back as I am, I can take a chance, but at least I had a little bit of room to the right side. So I went ahead and tried to pull it off and I hit a good one."
And on the final hole, a 12-foot birdie putt was punctuated by an enthusiastic fist pump.?
"That was a nice one to get," he said of the birdie on 18. "Maybe a low one tomorrow will give me a chance to kind of steal one from behind."
Of Woods' eight career victories at Bay Hill, the largest 54-hole deficit he's overcome was five strokes in 2009.
"I'm just happy to be back playing again, competing, grinding out there and trying to work my way up the board, work my way around the golf course," he explained. "It feels good to be able to finally understand and feel that I can get into a round again. I'm not really thinking as much as I was initially. I'm just playing shots, playing the holes, playing angles. … All these things are becoming more intuitive, which is great, because if you look at the last two days, I've missed the golf ball in the perfect position on almost every shot."
The third-round 69 breaks a small string of third-round improvement during Woods' three previous made cuts this year. He posted a 70 on Saturday of the Farmers Insurance Open, 68 at the Honda Classic and 67 at last week's Valspar Championship.