Woods still in contention at Masters

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 12, 2008

By Bret Strelow
Salisbury Post
AUGUSTA, Ga. ó Tiger Woods handed the flagstick to caddie Stevie Williams and putted the ball a few inches forward for a tap-in birdie at the 17th hole.
“I could read that one,” Woods said with a laugh. “It was straight in from there.”
Many other birdie attempts took a round-about route before rolling to rest outside the cup, but Woods worked himself closer to contention with a bogey-free third round at the Masters.
He is at 5 under par for the tournament and trails leader Trevor Immelman by six strokes heading into today’s final round at Augusta National.
Woods followed a birdie at the second hole Saturday with seven consecutive pars. He shot 33 on the back nine and posted a 4-under 68.
“This is the highest score I could have shot today,” said Woods, who was within four strokes of the lead when he ended his round. “I hit the ball so well and hit so many putts that just skirted the hole. I put myself right back in the tournament.”
Woods, who is attempting to win his fifth green jacket, has held at least a share of the 54-hole lead in each of his 13 major championship victories.
He will need to complete the second-largest weekend comeback in Masters history to resuscitate his goal of winning the Grand Slam. Jackie Burke trailed by eight shots after 36 and 54 holes in 1956 and still finished first. Greg Norman led eventual champion Nick Faldo by six shots with one round remaining in 1996.
“You want to win the Masters, period,” Woods said. “It doesn’t really matter how you do it, as long as you do it.”
Woods, who trailed Immelman by seven strokes after the completion of Friday’s play, ascended from a seven-way tie for 13th place to sole possession of fifth thanks to his first round in the 60s at Augusta National since 2005. He had a 65 in the third round that year and beat Chris DiMarco in a playoff to claim his fourth Masters title.
Woods nearly recorded an eagle from 117 yards away at No. 17, where he used a sand wedge for his approach. He made his first mistake of the day when he pushed his drive into the trees at No. 18.
Woods went into the same spot Friday and blasted his second shot down the adjacent 10th fairway. He used a 7-iron to lift his ball over the treetops Saturday and two-putted for a satisfying par.
He didn’t want to lose any more ground to the unheralded players atop the leaderboard. Immelman, Brandt Snedeker, Steve Flesch and Paul Casey have combined for six PGA Tour victories, and Flesch has four of them.
“There’s a guy in fifth place?” Snedeker jokingly asked. “Tiger Woods, yeah, that guy?
“I’m sure he’s going to be a factor. His name’s going to be on the leaderboard somewhere tomorrow, and it’s going to be there on the back nine. You have to realize that Trevor and all of us in front of him, if we go out there and play a good round of golf, he’s going to have to play an extremely great round of golf to beat us.”
Contact Bret Strelow at 704-797-4258 or bstrelow@salisburypost.com.