Tiger Woods slips out of contention as scores soar at Hero World Challenge
By Keith Jackson
Last Updated: 03/12/17 10:23pm
Tiger Woods' hopes of a victory on his return to competitive golf effectively ended on day three of the Hero World Challenge as Charley Hoffman extended his lead to five shots.
More blustery conditions at Albany in the Bahamas prevented the elite 18-man field from emulating the good scoring of the first two days as only five players managed to break the par of 72.
Woods was five over for his round after 10 holes before birdies at the 14th and 17th salvaged a 75 which left him 10 shots adrift of Hoffman, who continued his adventurous form and birdied three of the last five holes to post a 70 and move to 14 under.
Justin Rose made a bright start before settling for a respectable 71 which earned him a share of second place with Jordan Spieth, but Tommy Fleetwood made his second double-bogey of the back-nine at the last to slip to seven under with a 74.
Woods had opened with encouraging rounds of 69 and 68 to lie tied for fifth, but the tournament host struggled to find fairways and greens in regulation as he bogeyed four of the first seven holes to tumble down the leaderboard.
A wayward drive and a poor chip at the first cost him a shot, and he flew the green with his aggressive second to the long third and needed four more to get down before he ran up another six at the sixth when he caught a flyer with his third from the rough and left him a near-impossible up-and-down.
Another chunked pitch at the seventh led to his fourth bogey, and he did well to scramble pars at the next two holes before coming up short with his approach to the 10th, pitching to 12 feet and missing the par attempt.
Woods did save par at the next despite blazing his drive into bushes and having to hack back out to the fairway, but he looked far more resolute down the stretch and finally got a birdie putt to drop from 10 feet at the driveable par-four 14th.
The 41-year-old knocked a superb tee shot to eight feet at the 17th and converted the slippery, downhill putt to get back to four under, but his 20-foot putt for a closing three shaved the edge of the hole as he stayed three over for the day.
Hoffman, meanwhile, hit back from an opening bogey with back-to-back birdies, and he offset another mistake at the eighth with a birdie at nine to remain at the top of the leaderboard on 13 under.
A wild drive into the dunes at the 10th forced him to take a penalty drop as he scrapped his way to a double-bogey six, but he steadied himself with a nice run of pars before rolling in further birdie putts at 14, 15 and the last to earn a commanding advantage heading into the final day.
Rose was the hottest man on the course early on as he birdied three of the first five holes, but he lost momentum with bogeys at the seventh and ninth before bouncing back with a rare three at the difficult 10th hole.
The Englishman again lost ground on Hoffman with bogeys at 12 and 16, although he got back under par for the day with a birdie at the 17th as he became the first player into the clubhouse on nine under.
Spieth shares second with Rose after mixing three birdies with as many bogeys on a day where nobody in the field managed a flawless round, while Francesco Molinari is six shots off the pace after a 71 which included three birdies and a double-bogey six at the 10th.
Fleetwood raced to 11 under when he made his fourth birdie of an entertaining round at the eighth, but he made six at the 10th and dropped further shots at 13 and 14 in between birdies at the 11th and 15th before finding water at the last to come home in 40.
The Race to Dubai champion closed on seven under along with defending champion Hideki Matsuyama, Rickie Fowler, Matt Kuchar and Patrick Reed, with Woods a further three shots behind and playing for pride on Sunday.