Tiger Woods keeps four-shot lead with one round left in Chevron World Challenge
A dazzling birdie on the final hole helped Tiger Woods shoot a four-under-par 68 and maintain a four-shot lead over Graeme McDowell on Saturday after the third round of the Chevron World Challenge golf tournament in Thousand Oaks.
If Woods holds on and wins Sunday, it would be his first victory since returning to competitive golf following the personal scandal that plagued the world's former No. 1 golfer this last year. Woods hasn't won since he captured the Australian Masters in November 2009.
On the par-four 18th hole, Woods hit his approach shot to within a foot of the cup for an easy birdie -- his sixth of the round -- and ignited a roar from the crowd behind the green at the Sherwood Country Club course.
That put Woods at 17-under 199 through three rounds. McDowell also birdied the 18th hole to match Woods' 68 and stay within four shots of the lead.
Woods had problems early with a bogey on the par-five second hole. But he then made consecutive birdies at holes No. 5, 6 and 7 to regain his momentum.
McDowell made birdies on holes No. 2 and 3, bogeyed the par-four seventh and recovered with birdies on No. 10 and 11.
A pivotal moment then came at the par-four 14th hole when Woods hit his approach shot into a left-side bunker, from which he blasted the ball about 20 feet past the pin. McDowell's second shot, meanwhile, landed about six feet away -- creating a situation where McDowell might have gained two shots on Woods.
Instead, Woods sank his long putt and McDowell missed his shorter one, leaving both players with pars.
Englishman Paul Casey, meanwhile, had an eagle and four birdies on the front nine. He finished with a 69 and was in third place, nine under for the tournament.
The 18-player tournament benefits Woods' charity, the Tiger Woods Foundation, and pays $1.2 million to the winner. Woods has won the event four times.
Photo: Tiger Woods tees off on the second hole Saturday in the Chevron World Challenge at the Sherwood Country Club in Thousand Oaks, Calif. Credit: Gus Ruelas/Associated Press