Tiger Woods' dominance at Bay Hill was once again on display Saturday at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. The seven-time winner of this event shot a six-under 66 on Day 3 to snag the outright lead by two strokes over Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler and John Huh.
The former unquestioned No. 1 golfer on the planet has a chance to ascend to his familiar perch atop the official world rankings with a win this week. There isn't much to indicate that he won't get it done either.
Check out this stat provided by ESPN's Justin Ray, which highlights Woods' uncanny ability to close out tournaments as the front-runner after 54 holes.
Justin Ray @JustinRayGC
Tiger Woods leads by 2 entering final round @APinv - Woods is 40-for-42 when holding outright 54-hole lead in @PGATOUR events.3/23/2013, 9:57:27 PM
Overall, Woods has converted 50 of 54 third-round situations into wins whenever he's had at least a share of the lead.
NBC commentator Johnny Miller proclaimed this round by Woods to be in the top 10 of his illustrious career. Woods drained 17 of 18 putts inside 20 feet, and AP golf writer Doug Ferguson pointed out just how outstanding Woods has been with the flat stick since his putting lesson from Steve Stricker:
Doug Ferguson @dougferguson405
Tiger averaging just under 26 putts per round his last 7 rounds.3/23/2013, 9:28:28 PM
Here is a look at the leaderboard, filled with big names. For complete scores, head over to PGA.com.
|1||Tiger Woods ||69-70-66||-11|
|T2||Rickie Fowler ||73-67-67 ||-9|
|T2||John Huh ||67-69-71||-9|
|T2||Justin Rose ||65-70-72||-9|
|T5||Thorbjorn Olesen ||69-73-66 ||-8|
|T5||Ken Duke ||70-68-70 ||-8|
|T5||Gonzalo Fdez-Castano ||69-71-68||-8|
|T5||Bill Haas ||69-66-73 ||-8|
|T5||Jimmy Walker ||69-69-70 ||-8|
Woods made his third eagle of the week at the par-five No. 16 after a birdie at the previous hole and then closed out the day with a clutch par save at No. 18. It was a far cry from Friday's form down the stretch, when Woods logged three consecutive bogeys to finish.
After an outstanding start of four-under through four holes, Rose struggled playing in the final group alongside Bill Haas, who fared even worse.
The Englishman made four bogeys between the seventh and 14th holes and another at No. 17 as he continued to struggle, primarily with pushing short putts to the right. He settled for a round of 72.
Meanwhile, Haas registered a double bogey on the fifth and another at 10 to thwart the momentum generated by a birdie-birdie start. The 2011 FedEx Cup champion wound up one-over for the day and is three back.
Several prominent youngsters also find themselves in contention entering Sunday. Rickie Fowler is the biggest household name among them after another stellar round of 67 to combat Thursday's 73. He will be paired with Woods on Sunday, which didn't go well the last time around.
At the Memorial Tournament in 2012, Fowler shot 84 as Woods strode to victory.
Reigning PGA Tour Rookie of the Year John Huh also sits at nine-under, while Thorbjorn Olesen—who birdied his first four holes—fired a 66 to get within striking distance at eight-under.
Below are some of the best highlights of this action-packed moving day in Orlando (courtesy PGATour.com), where damper conditions led to low scores for those in good form.
Nicholas Thompson is nowhere near contention at five-over, but get a load of this shot (around the 35-second mark) as he stands in the water near the 17th green.
An eagle at No. 4 capped off the brilliant start by Rose that he unfortunately could not sustain.
This is the approach and putt that shot Woods out in front. Notice the graphic at the beginning of the sequence—Woods is minus-121 on par-fives in his career at Bay Hill.
Fowler has improved on the greens with the cross-handed grip, and it shows here as he slams home a putt from more than 40 feet at the short par-four No. 13.
The 23-year-old Olesen closes out his round in style with a beautiful birdie at the intimidating 18th hole, set up nicely by a fantastic drive that traveled more than 300 yards.