MIAMI • But for a series of missed opportunities, Tiger Woods could have begun the final round of the Honda Classic this morning (Singapore time) with a good chance of ending a long wait for a PGA Tour victory stretching back to 2013.
The 14-time Major champion, amid what is now more of a resurgence than a return from a fourth back surgery, fired a one-under 69 in the third round of the Honda Classic on Saturday, and said the first sub-70 round of his comeback gives him a shot at leader Luke List.
List carded a 66 at PGA National for a seven-under total of 203. Woods, seven shots back on 210, insisted he was not out of the running on the demanding course in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.
Woods said: "If I can go ahead and post a number early, you just never know."
The 42-year-old notched his first score in the 60s in nine rounds this year. In fact, it is his first score in the 60s on the PGA Tour since he carded a 68 in the third round of the 2015 Wyndham Championship.
Since then, debilitating back problems have sidelined the American. He missed all of 2016 before an abortive comeback bid last year ended with spinal fusion surgery in April.
In his latest comeback, he finished tied for 23rd at Torrey Pines and missed the cut last week in Los Angeles. But Saturday's round had him feeling optimistic. He said: "That's probably the highest score I could have shot today."
List seized sole possession of the lead with a birdie from a greenside bunker at the par-five 18th - rebounding from a bogey at 17.
His second-straight 66 put him one stroke in front of PGA Championship winner Justin Thomas and former US Open champion Webb Simpson.
"The course played a fair bit easier, not as much wind," said Thomas, who had four of his six birdies on PGA National's tough back nine.
"I'm playing real well, I just had a little more to show for it today."
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE GUARDIAN