A day after crafting his finest round at Augusta National in four years, Tiger Woods went a step further Saturday as he continued to strengthen his comeback narrative at the Masters.
Woods finished the third round tied for fifth overall after sinking six birdies en route to a four-under-par 68. The four-time Masters winner enters Sunday's final round at six-under overall.
Woods finished one stroke ahead of his second-round total, posting two sub-70 scores at the Masters for the first time since 2005. Still, Woods wasn't totally pleased with his round.
“I had my chances to make this a really special round today,” Woods said. “Man, I had it going there for a little bit. I made a stupidly good birdie at 13 and a stupidly bad bogey at 14. You know, it all evens out.”
The round got off to a positive start for Woods after he birdied holes Nos. 2-4. He missed out on legitimate birdie chances on Nos. 6 and 7 after he missed a pair of relatively short putts.
His biggest save of the day -- and possibly of his entire career at Augusta National -- came on 13 when Woods botched his tee shot with a "snap hook" that sent the ball flying into the rough. It could have been much worse, but the 14-time major winner put together a string of incredible shots that culminated in a spectacular 15-foot putt for birdie.
Woods ended the day tied with Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson, Kevin Na and Kevin Streelman, 10 strokes behind leader Jordan Spieth. Justin Rose, Phil Mickelson and Charley Hoffman also were ahead of Woods.
Woods knows it'll take a remarkable effort to beat Spieth on Sunday.
“I'm going to have to post something low,” he said. “It's in Jordan's hands right now.”
Woods will be paired with Rory McIlroy for their scheduled fourth-round tee time of 11:30 a.m. PDT.
Hole No. 1, Tea Olive: Par 4, 445 yards - Result: Par | Score: -2 (T23)
For the second straight day, Woods hits the middle of the first fairway with a 280-yard tee shot that lands safely to the left of a deep bunker. He follows up with a well-placed approach landing roughly 20 feet to the right of the cup. Woods misses a birdie putt that rolls slightly to the left before tapping in to save par. Tiger has birdied, bogeyed and made par on No. 1 this week.
Hole No. 2, Pink Dogwood: Par 5, 575 yards - Result: Birdie | Score: -3 (T14)
Woods makes another strong shot off the tee, hitting a 308-yard drive to set up a long approach shot. Woods' second shot falls just short of one of the two bunkers guarding the front of the green. The angle presents a favorable lie for birdie. Woods then hits a pitch shot six feet from the pin before sinking in an easy birdie putt.
Hole No. 3, Flowering Peach: Par 4, 350 yards - Result: Birdie | Score: -4 (T8)
Woods opens with a 316-yard drive that lands in the rough about 30 yards to the left of the hole. He follows with a spectacular approach that falls less than two feet from the pin. He birdies the hole. It has been an encouraging start for Woods.
Hole No. 4, Flowering Crab Apple: Par 3, 240 yards - Result: Birdie | Score: -5 (T7)
Woods appears to be on top of his game. His 226-yard tee shot falls 10 inches away from the pin. He then birdies the hole to earn his third birdie in four holes. There have been a couple of amazing shots by Woods over the last two holes. It'll be interesting to see if he can maintain this momentum the rest of the way -- if he does, Spieth could be in trouble.
Hole No. 5, Magnolia: Par 4, 455 yards - Result: Par | Score: -5 (T7)
Woods finds the fairway again from 280 yards off the tee, avoiding the two bunkers to the left to set up a straight, 190-yard approach. Woods then finds the middle of the green, 26-feet from the pin -- a birdie will be tricky to achieve. Woods makes par after his birdie putt trails to the right. Woods is tied with Ernie Els and Charl Schwartzel.
Hole No. 6, Juniper: Par 3, 180 yards - Result: Par | Score: -5 (T7)
A chance to move another peg up the leaderboard dissolves when Woods misses a six-foot birdie putt. His tee shot lands just inches from the pin, but he's forced to settle for par after his first slip-up of the day.
Hole No. 7, Pampas: Par 4, 450 yards - Result: Par | Score: -5 (T7)
Woods finds the middle of the fairway with a 302-yard tee shot. Woods follows with yet another fine approach shot that leaves him 10 feet from the pin. The irons are also performing well for the 14-time major winner. He just misses the birdie putt as it rolls past the hole. Woods, once again, has to live with par.
Hole No. 8, Yellow Jasmine: Par 5, 570 yards - Result: Birdie | Score: -6 (T6)
A conservative, 220-yard second shot keeps the ball on the fairway, making up for a flare that nearly landed in a bunker off the tee. A spectacular wedge approach lands him six feet from the cup. For the second straight day, he birdies on No. 8. Woods is tied for sixth with Rory McIlroy.
Hole No. 9, Carolina Cherry: Par 4, 460 yards - Result: Par | Score: -6 (T6)
Woods barely manages to avoid the left-side trees, hitting the ball into the rough about 110 yards away from the cup. Woods then overcompensates on the approach as the ball rolls off the backside of the green. His third shot sets up a challenging 10-footer for par, which he sinks. Woods goes four-under through the front nine.
Hole No. 10, Camellia: Par 4, 495 yards - Result: Par | Score: -6 (T6)
The driver has started to cool a little bit for Woods. He lands on the right side of the fairway on his tee shot, but it shouldn't pose much of a problem. A respectable 155-yarder puts him 21 feet from the flag. His birdie putt is accurate, but it runs out of steam inches from the cup. Par again.
Hole No. 11, White Dogwood: Par 4, 505 yards - Result: Par | Score: -6 (T7)
Woods hits the middle of the fairway with a big 332-yard drive to set himself for a good look to the pin. His second shot falls a bit short on the green, but it gives him a solid line for an otherwise tough 33-foot birdie try. The attempt breaks a little early and rolls wide. He taps in for par.
Hole No. 12, Golden Bell: Par 3, 155 yards - Result: Par | Score: -6 (T7)
Gusty conditions create problems as Woods sends the ball just to the left of the pin in front of one the three bunkers surrounding the green. He faces an uphill slope to the hole. His chip rolls about two feet short of the hole. Woods makes par.
Hole No. 13, Azalea: Par 5, 510 yards - Result: Birdie | Score: -7 (T6)
A Masters first for Woods on 13 -- possibly a first for him since his childhood playing days. Woods hits a "snap hook," that sends the ball into the rough off the tee. Woods also says a not-appropriate-for-TV word after taking the shot. Despite the horrendous shot, it still went more than 150 yards and it avoids a creek. He recovers admirably and gets the ball back onto the fairway. Woods then makes an equally impressive shot to land 15 feet from the pin. Woods makes the putt for birdie, prompting his signature fist pump in the process. Stunning recovery for Woods to make birdie.
Hole No. 14, Chinese Fir: Par 4, 440 yards - Result: Bogey | Score: -6 (T9)
Another poor tee shot ends up with two trees in front of the path to the pin. Woods manages to split the trees on the approach, and the ball rolls slightly off the green. His chip onto the green doesn't have enough steam, prompting the ball to drift away from the pin. Woods' par shot is well short as well, burdening him with his first bogey on the day.
Hole No. 15, Firethorn: Par 5, 530 yards - Result: Birdie | Score: -7 (T5)
Woods recovers quickly, hitting the heart of the fairway with a 316-yard drive. He follows with a solid shot that lands 37 feet from the flag. Woods gets birdie after his eagle putt comes up just a little short.
Hole No. 16, Redbud: Par 3, 170 yards - Result: Par | Score: -7 (T5)
The tee shot drops feet from the flag, but slowly rolls down the slope away from cup to set up a difficult birdie attempt. He manages par after birdie putt sputters short.
Hole No. 17, Nandina: Par 4, 440 yards - Result: Par | Score: -7 (T5)
Woods' drives seem to be improving after a couple of mid-round setbacks. He manages to keep a 300-yard tee shot barely on the fairway, but in good position for the green. His prospects for birdie look favorable after a 150-yard approach puts him 12 feet from within the hole. But the attempt rolls just past the lip of the cup.
Hole No. 18, Holly: Par 4, 465 yards - Result: Bogey | Score: -6 (T7)
Woods gets a little lucky with his tee shot, which takes a favorable bounce off a tree and gives him a decent shot at making the green 175 yards away. Woods hits into the front left bunker, presenting him with a tough shot to set up par. A good shot out of the bunker sets up a decent par attempt that he sends wide left. He ends the round with his second bogey of the day.
Woods finishes with a four-under 68.