Tiger Tracker: Woods trails by one after Round 3
Chevron World Challenge: Round 3, in pictures
A look at Tiger Woods in the third round at Sherwood Country Club.
Chevron World Challenge: Round 2, in pictures
Check out images of Tiger Woods as he vaulted into the lead in Thousand Oaks, Calif.
Chevron World Challenge: Round 1, in pictures
A look at Tiger Woods and the rest of the field in southern California.
THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. — Tiger Woods lost his three-shot margin with every shot that looked good until the wind decided otherwise. He lost his lead Saturday in the Chevron World Challenge because of something that was really out of his control.
Zach Johnson was 163 yards away in the 18th fairway, one shot behind and hopeful of getting his 7-iron onto the top shelf to make par as easy as possible. Imagine his surprise when it landed near the hole and hopped back into the cup for an eagle that put him atop the leaderboard.
"I would have been happy with a 4, let alone a 3," Johnson said. "A 2 is a steal."
That eagle gave him a 4-under 68, allowing him to make up a four-shot deficit on Woods and take a one-shot lead into the final round of the final official event this year in America.
Woods had three bogeys on the par 5s and didn't feel as though he did much wrong. On two of them, he hit wedges that looked good until the cool, gusting wind shifted directions and sent the ball much farther than he imagined. On the other par 5, his fairway metal hit a gust and dropped into a hazard.
The result was a 1-over 73. The prognosis wasn't nearly as bad.
"Even though I made three bogeys on par 5s, I had two three-putts, but I played well," Woods said. "I hit a lot of good shots that ended up in bad spots because I had bad gusts. So be it. That's the way it goes.
"I'm right there with a chance going into tomorrow."
Johnson was at 8-under 208 and will be in the final group with Woods, one shot behind. K.J. Choi overcame a double bogey on the par-5 second hole for a 72 and was three shots out of the lead. No one else was closer than five.
Woods had the 36-hole lead for the second straight tournament, and for the second straight time failed to break par in the third round. He felt differently Saturday than he did at the Australian Open in Sydney, where he opened with three straight bogeys and finished the day six shots out of the lead.
"Most of the time today, it wasn't me," Woods said. "I hit a lot of good shots today."
The wind was strong and chilly from the start, and rarely stayed the same direction very long. With a wedge in his hand, Woods went some 40 feet long on the second hole that led to a three-putt bogey. Another wedge on the par-5 13th sailed over the green and left a pitch he had no chance to get close.
Both players ran into trouble on the par-5 16th.
Johnson was playing in the group ahead of Woods, felt the breeze in his face and tried to hammer a driver that went left of the grass and into the gallery. He tried to clear a creek and went into the trees to the right before pitching out and taking a bogey.
Woods was in the fairway, but says a gust took his fairway metal too far right and into a hazard. He thought about trying to hit out behind a pair of rocks before choosing to take a penalty drop, and he also made bogey.
The difference was how they finished.
Johnson three-putted the 17th for another bogey, then drilled his 7-iron at the flag on the 18th for the most unlikely finish to his round. Woods had to settle for pars.
Johnson didn't realize his eagle on the final hole was for the lead. And even though he has a one-shot advantage, he doesn't think he's in contention until the final hour of any tournament.
Being in the last group with Woods, who has gone 26 starts since his last win?
"He's never going to shock me on the golf course because he's certainly the best player I've ever played with," Johnson said. "I'm glad I'm playing this week and I have the opportunity to go into Sunday with at least a chance."
Johnson, a former Masters champion, saw his streak end this year of four straight seasons winning on the PGA Tour. The Chevron World Challenge counts toward the world ranking, but is not official for the tour. He still wouldn't mind using it as a springboard for the next season, much like Tom Lehman did in the early days of this event, and Jim Furyk did in 2009.
For Woods, going from a three-shot lead to a one-shot deficit was not the end of the world.
He felt as though he played as well as he had the first two days, without having much luck with the wind. And for a guy who has gone two years without winning, the hardest part of hoisting a trophy is getting a chance.
Woods still had his three-shot lead when he chipped in from behind the fourth green for birdie. The wind was at its worst on the sixth hole, gusting hard with leaves scattered about the fairway. Woods felt it at his back and to the right, yet as the ball was in the air, it came against him from the left. He came up well short, chipped 7 feet by the hole and lipped out.
Hunter Mahan was the first player to make a run at Woods, going out in 33 and tying for the lead briefly after Woods had a three-putt bogey on the par-3 eighth.
Woods seemed to steady himself with a beautiful flop shot on the 10th that ran up the bank and trickled back 4 feet from the cup, and a solid approach to 18 feet for a two-putt birdie on the 11th.
But he went long of the 13th, turning a birdie hole into a bogey. He made a mess of the 16th with his penalty shot. And he had nothing to match an eagle from the fairway by Johnson on the final hole.
Here is a hole-by-hole look - from Golfweek - at how Saturday's round unfolded:
• • •
Hole 18: Par 4, 444 yards
With another iron off the tee, he puts it in perfect position in the fairway and should be able to go after the flag on his approach shot.
With a 6-iron, he takes aim at the flag, but it comes up short of the hole and he'll have a lengthy uphill putt to try and tie Johnson in the clubhouse.
The birdie putt comes up short and he taps in for a par and will trail Zach Johnson by one shot headed into Sunday's final round.
Through No. 18: 7 under (1-over 73 on Saturday)
• • •
Hole 17: Par 3, 166 yards
Tiger flies it over the flag and will have 20 feet coming back at the hole for birdie. Now trailing Zach Johnson by one, this is the first time Tiger has trailed since the 10th hole on Friday.
Johnson fired a 4-under 68 in the group in front of Tiger and Kuchar.
Tiger's birdie putt runs out of steam about six inches from the cup and he taps in for a par to stay one shot back.
Through No. 17: 7 under (1 over for the day)
• • •
Hole 16: Par 5, 567 yards
Taking iron off the tee and staring at the flags in the area to see how the wind would effect his tee shot, Tiger finds the right side of the fairway and he will have a decision ahead of him on whether to go for the green or not.
Tiger gets aggressive and pays for it. His second shot goes into the hazard, but it might be playable if Woods chooses to play it.
But he makes the safe play and decides to drop and take the penalty. He hits his fourth shot to 20 feet and will have a long putt to save par and stay two clear of Zach Johnson.
And things changed in one moment. Tiger misses his par putt and tapped in for bogey to fall to 7 under. Meanwhile, Zach Johnson eagled with a shot from the fairway on No. 18 to move to 8 under. This came after back-to-back bogeys on Nos. 16 and 17.
Tiger trails for the first time on Saturday and had three bogeys on Sherwood's five par-5s.
Through No. 16: 7 under (1 over for the day)
• • •
Hole 15: Par 3, 189 yards
After finding the water on Friday and carding a double-bogey, Tiger takes 8-iron again and puts it over the water and in the rough beyond the back of the green.
Tiger chips it to within two feet, yelling at the ball: "Bite. Bite. Bite." as it rolled down the steep green. Taps it in for par and will head to the final par 5 of the day.
Through No. 15: 8 under (Even-par for the day)
Elsewhere on the course: Gary Woodland wraps up his round with a birdie and sits at 3 under entering Sunday's final round.
• • •
Hole 14: Par 4, 455 yards
With another 3-wood off the tee, Tiger hits a perfect draw and the ball bounds down the center of the fairway.
From 148 yards out, he lands his approach shot pin high and it spins back to give him an uphill eight-foot putt for birdie.
The putt stays right and misses, but he taps in for a par to stay at 8 under and tied with Zach Johnson atop the leaderboard.
Through No. 14: 8 under (Even-par for the day)
• • •
Hole 13: Par 5, 568 yards
Hitting 3-wood, Tiger pulls his tee shot left and will have a big decision to make on whether he goes for the green in two from the rough.
He chooses to lay-up and puts it in the middle of the fairway.
From 132 yards out, he goes long and will face a very difficult up-and-down to save par and retain his lead. He plays a flop shot on his fourth, but aims away from the hole, as he couldn't have stopped it from his angle by going at the hole. He had more than 25 feet to save his par, and he leaves it three inches from the cup, picking up his second bogey on a par-5 for the second time Saturday.
Tiger and Zach Johnson are now tied for the lead.
Through No. 13: 8 under (Even-par for the day)
Elsewhere on the course: Zach Johnson continues his bogey-free round, picking up a par on No. 14 to stay at 8 under. K.J. Choi is getting it going as well, rolling in a birdie at No. 14 to move to 6 under.
• • •
Hole 12: Par 3, 190 yards
Tiger safely puts his tee shot on the green and will have about 20 feet for a third-straight birdie.
His putt comes up three feet short and has a knee-knocker for par, but it is uphill. He drains the putt and keeps his one-shot lead.
Through No. 12: 9 under (1 under for the day)
Elsewhere on the course: Zach Johnson pours in another birdie to move to 8 under, a shot back of Tiger.
• • •
Hole 11: Par 5, 517 yards
Tiger's tee shot goes right and he'll have an awkward chance at going for the green in two.
With only 183 yards to the pin, Tiger puts it to within eight feet and will have an eagle putt upcoming. He is 1 over on the par 5s today.
The putt cuts under the hole, but he taps in for birdie and has started the back-nine birdie-birdie. His lead is back to two strokes.
Through No. 11: 9 under (1 under for the day)
Elsewhere on the course: Zach Johnson birdies No. 12 and moves to 7 under. Hunter Mahan picks up another bogey on No. 13 to fall back to 5 under.
• • •
Hole No. 10: Par 4, 359 yards
In a surprise choice, Tiger takes out driver on the short par-4 and puts it around 10 yards in front of the green, but in the long rough. He will have an awkward chip over a bunker with very little green to work with.
Tiger plays a flop shot over the bunker and the ball settles about four feet from the hole. Woods finds the right line and picks up a birdie to move back to 8 under and has a two-shot lead.
Through No. 10: 8 under (Even-par for the day)
Elsewhere on the course: Hunter Mahan pars the par-3 12th hole to stay at 6 under. Zach Johnson picks up an eagle on No. 11 and moves into a tie with Mahan at 6 under.
• • •
Hole No. 9: Par 4, 422 yards
Taking 3-iron off the tee, Tiger plays his "stinger" right into the middle of the fairway.
His approach shot lands 20 feet from the hole and the birdie putt slides by on the left. He knocks in the par putt to retain his one-shot lead.
Through No. 9: 7 under (1 over for the day)
Elsewhere on the course: Rickie Fowler eagles No. 11 to move to 2 under.
• • •
Hole No. 8: Par 3, 228 yards
Tiger hits the green off the tee, but will have a long, over-the-slope birdie putt if he hopes to build on his lead.
His first putt wasn't hit firmly enough and he has plenty of work to do to save par. And he misses to the left and it is a three-putt bogey for Woods. He maintains his one-shot lead over Hunter Mahan.
Through No. 8: 7 under (1 over for the day)
Elsewhere on the course: Mahan has dropped his first shot of the day, paying the penalty for a tee shot that found part of the forest on No. 10. He falls back to 6 under. Gary Woodland moves to 4 under with a birdie on No. 11.
• • •
Hole No. 7: Par 4, 446 yards
Taking driver off the tee, Tiger blasts it past the signature grouping of rocks in the middle of the fairway and will have a good look at the green for his second shot.
From 138 yards, Tiger lands it 12 feet from the hole and is staring at a good birdie attempt.
The putt curves around the hole and he taps in for a par. His lead is now one shot over Hunter Mahan.
Through No. 7: 8 under (Even-par for the day)
Elsewhere on the course: Hunter Mahan has moved to 7 under with a birdie on No. 9. Paul Casey, who shot an opening-round 79, moves to 3 under with a birdie on No. 13. He was 3 over early in his round. Meanwhile, Gary Woodland holes an awkward bunker shot to move to 3 under as well.
• • •
Hole No. 6: Par 4, 422 yards
Tiger puts his 3-wood tee ball in the fairway and is forced to wait on the group in front of them - Zach Johnson and K.J. Choi.
From 164 yards with his approach shot - and his pants whipping in the wind - he launches it high and the wind catches it and sends it to the left of the green in a false front.
Tiger chips his third shot to five feet behind the hole and will have a downhill putt to save par. The putt rims out on the right and picks up his second bogey of the first six holes. His lead also shrinks to two shots over Hunter Mahan.
Kuchar picks up his first bogey of the day with a three-putt on the tough green, dropping to 4 under.
Through No. 6: 8 under (Even-par for the day)
Elsewhere on the course: Hunter Mahan scrambles to save par on Nos. 7 and 8 to move within two of Tiger. Paul Casey has moved 2 under after an opening-round 79.
• • •
Hole No. 5: Par 5, 531 yards
Using driver, Tiger pulls his drive left and will have a tough second shot from right next to a tree trunk.
He punches out to 75 yards and he lofts his third shot to just over the flag and will have 12 feet for a birdie. He misses the slick putt to the right, but makes the comebacker to secure the par and keep his three-shot lead over Hunter Mahan.
Matt Kuchar continues to struggle with the putter, missing a birdie putt from 15 feet under the hole. He makes his par to stay at 5 under.
Through No. 5: 9 under (1 under for the day)
• • •
Hole No. 4: Par 4, 456 yards
With iron in hand, Tiger puts it in the middle of the fairway, while Kuchar goes through the fairway and into the first cut of rough.
With 213 yards to the pin, Tiger goes right after the flag with his approach shot and it skirts off the back of the green and into the rough. Kuchar, using 8-iron from 181 yards, comes up well short, but is on the green.
Tiger chips in to pick up his second birdie of the day, hitting the ball a few feet out to the left and watching it wind back into the hole. Kuchar picks up a par and is now four shots back and in third place, as Hunter Mahan birdies No. 5 to move to 6 under.
Through No. 4: 9 under (1 under for the day)
• • •
Hole No. 3: Par 3, 198 yards
Now with the honors, Kuchar pulls his tee shot to the left and nearly out-of-bounds. Tiger doesn't like his tee shot either, as it screams to left side of the green, but it hits the large gallery and kicks back toward the green, leaving him with a chip shot on his second shot.
Kuchar does a nice job with his second shot and has an 8-footer to save par. Tiger nearly holes his second shot and will have an uphill putt to save par. Both make their putts to walk away unscathed.
Through No. 3: 8 under (Even-par for the day)
Elsewhere on the course: Hunter Mahan makes a long par putt on No. 4 to stay at 5 under.
• • •
Hole No. 2: Par 5, 531 yards
With driver in hand, Tiger hooks it a bit left and into the rough. He will be sitting in a similar position to where he was on Friday, when he eagled the hole. Kuchar takes a similar line, but gets a friendly kick out of the rough and into the fairway.
Tiger and Kuchar both decide to lay-up, as the winds are swirling and neither could chance going at it in two with a stream lining the front of the green.
On his third shot, Tiger tries to use the back of the green to have the ball feed back to the pin, but it stays on the back and he is staring at a tough two-putt for par. Kuchar puts his third shot below the hole and has a look at birdie.
A day after Tiger was 6 under on the par 5s at Sherwood Country Club, Tiger has to be careful with his downhill putt and it runs about five feet past. He studies his par putt and misses it right to give back a stroke to the field.
Kuchar pulls his birdie putt left and taps in for a par. Tiger's lead is now three strokes over Kuchar and Hunter Mahan.
Through No. 2: 8 under (Even for the day)
Elsewhere on the course: Rickie Fowler takes a quadruple bogey on the par-3 3rd to fall back to 1 under.
• • •
Hole No. 1: Par 4, 342 yards
On a brisk morning in Thousand Oaks, Calif. - Weather.com calls for winds up to 27 mph from the northeast and a high of 59 degrees today - is first off the tee in the final pairing. Using 3-wood, Tiger's tee ball takes off left and gets through a tree and into the rough. Kuchar puts his tee shot in the middle of the fairway.
From 98 yards, Tiger launches his approach shot high in the air and puts it to within three feet for birdie. Kuchar nearly matches him, but some backspin leaves him five feet away. Kuchar misses his putt on the high side and still finds himself away, but he knocks in the par putt to stay at 5 under. Tiger makes his birdie putt and extends his lead to four shots.
Through No. 1: 9 under (1 under for the day)
Elsewhere on the course: Hunter Mahan and Rickie Fowler birdied No. 2, moving Mahan to 5 under and Fowler to 4 under.
• • •
We also have a break down of his Tiger's opening round that saw him finish three shots back of K.J. Choi. Click for the first-round Tracker here.
Tiger has been in this position many times in Thousand Oaks, Calif., including last year when it looked like he was going to win for the first time in 2010. Graeme McDowell caught him on Sunday to squash those hopes. Check out that story here.