NASSAU • As the host of the Hero World Challenge, a rejuvenated Tiger Woods was expecting to put up a strong challenge but it has not quite worked out for him.
The former world No. 1 has been unable to find any momentum at the US$3 million (S$4.1 million) event and dropped to last in the 18-player field after a third-round even-par 72 put him on two-under 214 and 11 off the lead on Saturday.
Sweden's Henrik Stenson, Jon Rahm of Spain and American Tony Finau are in a three-way tie for the lead on 203 at the Albany Club course in the Bahamas.
Woods admitted he was still recovering from a flu bug picked up from his son Charlie, which meant he was not able "to play clean", ending up with a double-bogey or worse in each of the three rounds.
"Today was probably the best I've felt physically this week, finally started to get my energy back and started to feel a little bit better," said the 14-time Major winner, who had five birdies but also three bogeys and a double-bogey seven at the par-five third.
Woods, who turns 43 on Dec 30, enjoyed a strong comeback from his fourth major back surgery last season. He has played 18 events since March, including seven in the final nine weeks, in what he admitted was a physically and mentally exhausting schedule.
ALEX NOREN'S CRAZY FINISH
15TH, PAR 5: EAGLE -2
16TH, PAR 4: TRIPLE BOGEY +3
17TH, PAR 3: HOLE-IN-ONE -2
18TH, PAR4: BIRDIE -1
And it appears he has not got over the hangover in his first 72-hole event since winning the season-ending Tour Championship, his first PGA victory in five years.
There was no such problem for Rahm and Stenson, who shared the overnight lead and could not be separated, signing for 69s. Finau birdied both the 15th and 16th holes in a round of 67 to join his European Ryder Cup-winning rivals.
"I played nicely birdieing four of the par fives and, on this golf course, we have five of them," said Finau, who is making his debut in the tournament that boasts a strong field but is not an official PGA Tour money event.
"This is a golf course I'm not very familiar with, I played it once before... When I'm playing well, I feel like I can score on any golf course, especially a course that has five par fives.
"There's only two or three (on the PGA Tour), so to be able to have those couple extra par fives, you just know you're going to have some opportunities to score and I've been able to take advantage."
Stenson, who is seeking his first victory since capturing last year's Wyndham Championship, felt that while the field was small, winning "would be a nice boost".
Compatriot Alex Noren celebrated a hole-in-one at the par-three 17th hole in what was a remarkable finish. He completed his closing five holes in a bizarre manner - birdie (14), eagle (15), triple bogey (16), ace (17) and birdie (18) in a score of 70 that put him tied for eighth on 208.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS