Woods fires 69 to take four-shot Farmers lead

Tiger Woods hits a tee ball during the third round at the Farmers Insurance Open.

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SAN DIEGO – Torrey Pines may be Tiger Woods’ territory, but he hasn’t won here since 2008. His performance for much of Sunday at the Farmers Insurance Open was reminiscent of his play during those simpler years.

Woods shot 69 to take a four-shot lead into the final round, which will begin later Sunday and be completed Monday. He was six strokes ahead until he reached the par-5 18th, which he bogeyed after finding a bunker off the tee and with his third shot. Brad Fritsch, a 35-year-old rookie off the Web.com Tour, is Woods’ closest pursuer. He birdied No. 18 to reach 10 under par. Fritsch is trying to extend this streak: a 2012 Web.com Tour graduate has finished first or second in each of the season's first two full-field events.

Woods was victorious the last time he played on a Monday at Torrey Pines. That was in the 2008 U.S. Open, where he needed 19 holes to dispatch of Rocco Mediate.

This is Woods' largest 54-hole lead since the 2009 BMW Championship. Of course, he’s only held the third-round lead once since then as he’s gone through his personal crisis and a prolonged rebuilding process.

He missed just two fairways on the front nine Sunday, often twirling his driver as another ball found the fairway. He missed just three greens, as well. Four of Woods’ five birdies came on putts of 3 feet or less. The other was completed by a 6-foot putt.

If Woods hangs on, it will be his eighth PGA Tour victory at Torrey Pines. He’s won the Farmers Insurance Open six times, as well as that 2008 U.S. Open. He’s won a major in five of the six seasons during which he won the Farmers Insurance Open. Of course, those victories came during some of his most successful seasons. No one knows what this season holds for Woods, but he’s off to a good start in his PGA Tour debut.

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