Tiger Woods drove on adjacent fairways twice on the back nine, hit a cup of beer in a spectator’s hand, got rattled by a bug and was relegated to shaping some shots around trees and under branches.
He still managed to shoot a seven-under-par 65 on Saturday in the third round of the Buick Open at Grand Blanc Township, Mich., giving him a 17-under 199 total and a one-stroke lead when Michael Letzig (68) double-bogeyed the last hole.
“The whole idea of the game is put the ball in the hole, and I did that,” Woods said. “But as far as controlling my ball, I didn’t do that.”
When he was eight shots behind first-round leader Steve Lowery, Woods said he couldn’t make up ground in one day at Warwick Hills.
It took him two.
Woods roared back into contention with a nine-under 63 in the second round and took the lead with his 65 Saturday.
“Eight back, at a U.S. Open, you can make that up in one round,” he said. “You can’t make it up around here.”
He moved into a tie for the lead with Letzig at 17 under with a 33-foot birdie putt at No. 17.
Woods pumped his fist, shouted “Yeah!” and the traditionally rowdy gallery roared so loud he couldn’t communicate with caddie Steve Williams.
“It was pretty exciting,” said Woods, making his ninth Buick Open appearance. “The people here have been absolutely incredible, so supportive of this event over the years. That’s one of the reasons why we love coming here.”
Woods has a 35-1 record on the PGA Tour when he has the outright lead after 54 holes. The lone loss in this situation came when he was 20 in his third tournament as a pro to Ed Fiori in the 1996 Quad City Classic.
If Woods wins, it would be his third Buick Open title and 69th on the PGA Tour.
Letzig is hoping to win for the first time in his 50th PGA Tour event.
Funk takes lead at U.S. Senior Open
Fred Funk shot a four-under 68 at the U.S. Senior Open to take a one-stroke lead over Greg Norman and Joey Sindelar after the third round.
Funk is at 13 under entering today’s final round at Crooked Stick in Carmel, Ind. Norman also had a 68, and Sindelar finished with a 70. Amateur Tim Jackson, the overnight leader, shot a 73 and is three shots behind at 10 under.
Russ Cochran set a course record with a 64 after beginning the day at even par.
Funk, Norman, Sindelar and Jackson all held the lead at some point Saturday.
The previous course record was set Thursday, when Norman, Sindelar, Jackson and Dan Forsman all shot six-under 66.
Tom Watson, the runner-up at the British Open, shot a three-over 75 and had a share of 41st at two over.
Matthew in front at Women’s British
Catriona Matthew took a three-shot lead at the Women’s British Open after a one-under 71 in the third round at Lytham St. Annes, England.
Matthew, who is playing only 10 weeks after giving birth to her second child, had a four-under total of 212 after Saturday’s round. Christina Kim of the United States was second at one under.
Defending champion Jiyai Shin of South Korea shot a 68 to climb into a tie for third place with Ai Miyazato of Japan at even par.