Woods started the day feeling confident and looking forward to another brilliant, steady round of golf. He would have gotten away with it, too, if it weren't for a palm tree and a pesky McDowell.
Though Woods' round overall was impressive, it was not without a few moments that would allow McDowell room to advance.
McDowell, undeterred, plowed forward during the front nine. Proof of his determination before the turn included an eagle and two birdies.
The back nine proved the most interesting as McDowell began to fade beginning at 10. McDowell three-putted 10. He was rattled the rest of the journey.
Woods continued his steady play. Surprisingly, putting was never an issue as it has been in the past. Apparently hanging around Steve Stricker has helped Woods.
At 16 things got a little more interesting.
McDowell's tee shot landed to the left side of the green and within 20 feet of the pin. McDowell then chipped in to eagle 16, inching his way closer to Tiger's lead.
McDowell needed to keep his momentum, and 17 was his chance to take advantage of Tiger's misfortune.
Woods' tee shot on 17 concluded with a palm tree stealing the spotlight and Tiger's ball. The golf ball became lodged in the palm tree forcing Woods to take an unplayable lie.
Woods did not need to look far for confirmation to where his ball landed. Spectators and officials in the area verified that the ball landed in the tree and did not fall to the ground.
Tiger later commented on the event according to the Detroit Free Press saying,
And it got to a point where I was probably about, maybe 60 yards away, and I could see the ball in the tree, identified with binoculars and saw my line on the ball. I took a drop and unfortunately it wasn't the lie I needed to play the shot. I hit a hell of a shot just to keep it on the green. But yeah, it's been a very interesting last couple weeks. I had two lost balls last week and then I got one stuck in the tree this week.
Woods continued on 17 by taking a dropped ball and hitting his third shot. McDowell desperately tried to take advantage of Woods' error and thought his opportunity would be on the green. McDowell's chance to birdie the hole fizzled as he putted pass the hole. Woods' problems on 17 continued as he two-putted for bogey.
Both Woods and McDowell approached 18 with determination and different goals.
Woods wanted to gain more distance from McDowell and the rest of the field. McDowell wanted to try for an eagle or par to secure his place in the last grouping for Sunday.
Both players had strong tee shots allowing them a decent second shot approach.
McDowell's second shot landed on the back of the green while Woods hit a nine iron landing the ball a few feet from the hole. McDowell's brilliant 85-foot putt ended within a foot of the hole and he went on to tap it in for par. Woods poured his putt from about 15 feet away and birdied the hole.
Woods' play on 18 gave him a four-shot lead going into Sunday.
Both McDowell and Woods provided an exhilarating Saturday finish and a wonderful prelude to Sunday's final round.
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