LOS ANGELES – It was perhaps the most electric seven-plus holes Tiger Woods has ever played at Riviera Country Club. Here are some thoughts and observations after watching the man play into darkness after starting the third round of the Genesis Open in style:
- Where exactly did that come from? After struggling on this course for the better part of two decades, Tiger lit up the back nine to begin Round 3 on Saturday evening. An easy birdie on No. 10 was followed by a clinical eagle on the par-5 11th, followed by two more birdies. It was a run of 5 under in four holes, a feat equaled only once before in his illustrious career.
- Woods completed seven holes before play was suspended, playing them in 5 under. When play resumes at 9:45 a.m. ET Sunday he’ll face a short chip shot in front of the green on the par-5 17th, needing to get up and down to save par.
- The best shot of Woods’ round came on No. 11, when he carved a 5-wood from 250 yards that rolled to within 10 feet, setting up an eagle that brought the afternoon crowds at Riviera to a frenzy.
- After fighting to make it past the cut line this morning, Woods started Round 3 in a tie for 52nd and 10 shots off the lead. But thanks in large part to his stirring stretch, he will return to the course Sunday morning in a tie for 14th at 6 under, just seven shots behind leader Justin Thomas.
- For Woods, the key to his stark turnaround after failing to create momentum through the first two rounds was on the greens. “I didn’t have four three-putts out there. That was positive,” he said. “I got on a nice little roll.”
- While he made up some ground on the leaders, Woods knows there is still a long road ahead. Temps should be in the 40s when play resumes, and he’ll face difficult par-4s at No. 18 and No. 2 right out of the gate. “I’ve got some work to do,” he said. “It’s going to be a tough day for all of us, and one that we’re going to have to fight through.”
- With tournament officials scrambling to complete 72 holes by Sunday night, players will remain in their current groups for the final round. That means that even if Woods climbs further up the leaderboard, he’ll head back out for Round 4 with Cody Gribble and Peter Malnati off the 10th tee immediately after the group finishes Round 3.
- At age 43, Tiger needs a little more prep time than he might have required in his younger years. With play set to resume at dawn, he plans to set the alarm for 2 or 3 a.m. PT to “start the process.” “This has been a long week,” he said. “We’re almost done.”
- Woods lamented the fact that his best round of the year was cut short because of darkness, and expressed a desire to keep on playing were it not for the conditions. “The way I was feeling, the way I was playing, I wanted to play as many holes as possible,” he said.
- Woods played 30 holes during a marathon session Friday that ended in a chilly rain, and he’ll nearly match that total Sunday should things go according to plan. It’s a heavy physical lift for someone who faces a quick turnaround before next week’s WGC event in Mexico. “It’s going to be a long one,” he said. “It’s just going to be a lot of walking. And last couple days, it’s definitely testing the body.”
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