Ailing Woods grinds his way to a 68

Tiger Woods signalling his par putt on the 10th hole on Saturday. The American needs a win to ensure his spot in the FedExCup play-offs.
Tiger Woods signalling his par putt on the 10th hole on Saturday. The American needs a win to ensure his spot in the FedExCup play-offs.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

GREENSBORO (United States) • Tiger Woods, chasing his first victory in two years, made his lone bogey of the day at the final hole to finish two strokes behind third-round leader Jason Gore at golf's Wyndham Championship on Saturday.

A stiff and sore Woods, who was the overnight co-leader, had arrived at Sedgefield Country Club about three hours before his round to receive treatment for an undisclosed ailment.

But once he got onto the course, he had superb control of his driver on the few occasions he used it.

He had even better mastery of his putter, holing a series of clutch par-saving putts throughout the day, but only three birdies.

"It was a grind today," said the former world No. 1, who birdied the first hole to briefly take the outright lead but ended in a three-way tie for second.

"Like yesterday, I kept leaving myself in tough spots above the hole and had to putt too defensively because of it. Consequently, I didn't make a bunch of birdies."

With a chance to join boyhood friend Gore in the final grouping, Woods' downhill, six-foot par putt lipped out at the par-four 18th, much to the disappointment of the huge gallery that followed him every step of the way.

The three-putt bogey, which capped a two-under 68, dropped Woods into a tie with fellow American Scott Brown (66) and Swede Jonas Blixt (62) on 13-under 197.

Even with that blemish, Woods posted a third straight round in the 60s for the first time this season.

American Gore, who has known Woods most of his life, mixed nine birdies with one bogey for a 62 to vault into the lead at 15-under 195.

Woods acknowledged he would have to shoot a better score on the final day to secure his 80th PGA Tour victory, which would leave him only two short of the record held by Sam Snead.

"It's not a course you can sit and make a bunch of pars and expect to win. You've got to go for it," said the 39-year-old.

The American, whose world ranking has plunged to 286th as he has worked his way back after back surgery and swing revamp, has not won since the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational in 2013.

He is coming off a missed cut at the PGA Championship that marked his third straight early exit from a major championship.

He needs to win Wyndham- just his 11th event of the year - to be sure of qualifying for the FedExCup play-offs, which start on Thursday.

A solo second-place finish might also give him a chance - depending on other finishers.

Gore, whose lone tour victory came in 2005, showed a resurgence at the age of 41.

"Contrary to popular belief, I'm still a good golfer," joked Gore, who was playing so badly a couple of years ago he was ready to quit and take a coaching job.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 24, 2015, with the headline 'Ailing Woods grinds his way to a 68'. Print Edition | Subscribe