AKRON, Ohio: World number one Tiger Woods, seeking his eighth career victory at the World Golf Championships Bridgestone Invitational, fired a two-under par 68 on Saturday (Sunday in Manila) to keep a seven-stroke lead after 54 holes.
One day after matching the low round of his career and the Firestone Country Club course record with a 61, Woods maintained the same gap he had opened on the field on Friday, with a three-round total of 15-under par 195.
“I feel pretty good,” Woods said. “Today was a day that I didn’t quite have it, but I scored. And the name of the game is posting a number and I did, grinded my way around that golf course.”
“I was just trying to build on my lead somehow, just trying to build on it, and for most of the day I was doing that. Ended up being a dead push for the day, but that’s not too bad, either.”
Woods, a 14-time major champion chasing the all-time record of 18 majors won by Jack Nicklaus, is in a commanding position to claim his fifth victory of the season and has sent a message that he is in top form entering next week’s PGA Championship, the final major event of the year.
“Any time you can go into a major tournament or any tournament with a win under your belt, it’s nice,” Woods said. “It validates what you’re working on and you have some nice momentum going in there. And hopefully I can seal the deal tomorrow and get ready for the PGA at Oak Hill.”
Sweden’s Henrik Stenson fired a 67 to stand second on 202, one stroke in front of American Jason Dufner, who also shot 67 on Saturday.
England’s Luke Donald and Chris Wood and American Bill Haas shared fourth on 204 with American Keegan Bradley and Spain’s Miguel Angel Jimenez on 205.
Woods opened with back-to-back birdies, then closed the front nine with a bogey only to answer with a birdie at the 10th. Woods birdied the 13th but took a bogey at the next hole and continued the up and down run with a bogey at the par-5 16th followed by a birdie at the par-4 17th.
“All in all, to-under par is not too bad,” Woods said. “I birdied the first two right out of the gate and I figured if I could somehow just keep the card clean and not make any bogeys and maybe throw a couple more in there, it would be a pretty good day.”
Woods is 52-4 when leading or sharing the 54-hole lead in a tournament. He has won nine times in PGA events by eight or more shots and his current lead in the largest in a PGA event since Rory McIlroy led by eight after three rounds of the 2011 US Open.