Barclays 2013: Determined Tiger Woods in Position to Start FedEx Cup with Win

Steve Silverman@@profootballboyFeatured ColumnistAugust 25, 2013

JERSEY CITY, NJ - AUGUST 24:  Tiger Woods of the United States hits his second shot on the 13th hole during the third round of The Barclays at Liberty National Golf Club on August 24, 2013 in Jersey City, New Jersey.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Jeff Gross/Getty Images

Tiger Woods is fighting, clawing and scratching to earn his sixth championship of the year at The Barclays.

He is a long way from getting that title. He is four strokes behind co-leaders Matt Kuchar and Gary Woodland. He also trails red-hot Kevin Chappell by three strokes.

Throughout his spectacular career, Tiger has picked up most of his 79 career victories by getting out in front of the field and running away from the competition. He is probably the greatest front-runner in the sport's history.

Come-from-behind wins are not the way he usually does his business. His last victory when he did not have at least a share of the lead after the third round came in the 2012 AT&T National. He has 22 come-from-behind victories in his career.

Notching No. 23 at Liberty National Golf Course will be something of a Herculean challenge, but just getting through his third round and shooting a two-under 69 was a major task. Woods got off to an indifferent start in the third round, as he bogeyed the third, fourth and seventh holes.

Woods was two over par at that point in the round and down to four under in the tournament. He was in danger of falling out of contention.

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That's just what figured to happen. Woods was battling a sore back, and he appeared to be in more discomfort on Saturday than he had been in during the first two rounds. He was twisting, stretching and bending, doing anything he could to loosen his back.

Nothing seemed to be working. He was wincing throughout the round at various points after he completed his swing. How could he possibly rally while playing in pain?

But that's just what he did. He stopped the bleeding when he birdied the 611-yard, par-five eighth hole. Then he put together a string of par putts on the ninth through 12th holes. All the while, his aching back seemed to be sapping his strength.

It could be seen whenever Tiger had to bend, ever so gingerly, to retrieve the ball out of the cup. He was not bending like a champion. Woods, 37, was bending like an old man.

But even as his gait and swing changed, he somehow managed to rally. He birdied the 13th hole. He birdied the 16th hole. He had a stellar birdie opportunity on the 17th, but his putt just skirted the cup. Finally, he rolled in an 11-foot birdie on the 18th to finish his round.

Eight under par for the tournament leaves him in a position to make a move on the leaders. He may need Kuchar, Woodland and Chappell to come back to him, but he is in decent position to make a run at a come-from-behind win.

It seemed that as his physical discomfort grew on the back nine, he made the proper adjustment to his game so that he could survive the round and not do any more harm. He did let a couple of big swings go—particularly when he drove the green on the par-four, 325-yard 16th hole—but he also seemed to dial it down on several of his other shots.

While his swing did not have its usual ferocity, he was putting the ball exactly where he needed to remain in contention.

"I hung in there," Woods told the media after his round was completed, via Farrell Evans of ESPN.com. "It's golf. You just kind of grind it out. It's a long day.

"You just figure out something to get it around, and I did. I figured out some shots that I knew I could play today, and just relied on my putter."

Woods said that his back issues grew worse as the day went along. He is hoping that a full night's rest will allow him to gain some recovery before he tees off on Sunday. Even if his back doesn't ease up, he will return to the course.

"Hopefully, tomorrow, it will be one of those days again and fight through it and see if I can win the tournament," Woods said.

Tiger showed determination and poise in battling back in contention on Moving Day, and he has a shot to steal a victory in the first FedEx Cup playoff event of the year.

It's almost certainly going to be a can't-miss round for all golf fans. Tiger is on the hunt again.


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