Tiger Woods rebounded in the third round the 2012 Tour Championship, and he will need to continue his success on Sunday in order to catch the players at the top of the leaderboard.
Woods currently sits in a tie for seventh place at four-under. He started off the tournament by tearing through the course at East Lake Golf Club for an opening-round score of 66, which had him tied for the lead.
But, he faltered through the next 18 holes, finishing with a 73 for the day. After today, he has kept himself in contention for the top spot and has a chance at catching Brandt Snedeker and Justin Rose, who currently share the late at eight-under.
Here is what Woods must do to have a chance at winning the Tour Championship, and thus, the 2012 FedEx Cup.
Improve His Tee Shots
The 16th hole was emblematic of Woods’ third-round performance.
He stood 144 yards away from the green on his third shot but managed to drop the ball 11 feet from the hole and converted the put for par, according to USA Today’s Steve DiMeglio. DiMeglio also notes that Woods hit just 6-of-14 fairways throughout the round.
Despite consistently misfiring from the tee, Woods was able to get himself out of jams and keep his score low.
On the final day, Woods will need to be hitting birdies instead of working from behind and saving par. He cannot count on being so fortunate for a second day in a row and must improve the accuracy on his drives.
Stay Focused on This Tournament
With so much at stake, it will be extremely easy for Woods to view Sunday’s performance as more than just a round of golf.
While it certainly is a monumentally important 18 holes, Woods must focus on simply winning the tournament he is competing in and ignore the countless scenarios that could arise in the final FedEx Cup standings.
The Associated Press quoted Woods saying the following, via ESPN:
I'm playing for the 'W,' and tomorrow I get a great shot at it. All the money and awards and all of that stuff, that comes along with winning championships. That's the way I've always looked at it, and right now, I'm four back.
Woods has the luxury of being in control of his own destiny as the second-ranked player in the FedEx Cup chase. If he wins in Atlanta, he wins $10 million. Judging by his statement after the third round, he is keeping things simple and staying in exactly the right mindset for the final day.
Woods is in a difficult position heading into the final round. Trying to gain too much ground on his drives led to several errant shots in the third round, but he must keep his foot on the gas pedal in order to catch Snedeker and Rose.
The "cold-blooded killer" mentality that characterized Woods throughout his career has been absent in the past three years. Before his infidelity scandal and injuries, no other player could feel safe with a lead of any size on Sunday, and if Woods was atop the leaderboard heading into a final round, the tournament was already over.
But, he has been subject to poor performances on the weekend at the majors this season and has lacked that ability to close out strong.
The golf world is still waiting for a memorable performance on a Sunday from Woods, and for that to happen, he must take risks during the final round.