Tiger Woods 7 Strokes Back After Hot Start to Round 3 at 2019 Genesis Open

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistFebruary 17, 2019

PACIFIC PALISADES, CALIFORNIA - FEBRUARY 16: Tiger Woods hits a putt on the 5th hole during the continuation of the second round of the Genesis Open at Riviera Country Club on February 16, 2019 in Pacific Palisades, California. (Photo by Yong Teck Lim/Getty Images)
Yong Teck Lim/Getty Images

Tiger Woods managed to make the cut Saturday at the 2019 Genesis Open, and he finished the day seven shots out of the lead at six-under after a red-hot start to his third round.

Because of rain wreaking havoc on the tournament schedule Thursday, Woods finished his second round Saturday and then played seven holes of his third round before darkness halted play at Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, California.

Tiger shot an even-par 71 in the second round overall to complement his one-under 70 in the first round, and he was five-under through seven holes in the third round before the course was cleared.

At the end of play Saturday, Woods sat in a tie for 14th place, while Justin Thomas paced the field at 13-under.

Tiger essentially guaranteed that he would make the cut on his final hole of the second round when he sunk a long birdie putt from the fringe on the par-four ninth:

Woods was right on the cut line at even par for the tournament when he bogeyed his first hole of the day at No. 4. After parring four straight and then carding the much-needed birdie on No. 9, however, he secured a spot in the field for two more rounds.

After just barely making the cut, Tiger got himself in contention by reeling off three birdies and one eagle over his first four holes in the third round.

By starting the third round five-under through four holes, Woods did something he accomplished just one other time over the past 16 years, according to PGA Tour Communications:

After having narrowly made the cut, there wasn't much pressure on Woods to begin his third round. Considering how far he was behind the leaders, few figured Tiger would manage to find his way into contention.

That started to change on his second hole of the round, though, when he got on the green in two and made eagle on the par-five 11th to supplement his birdie on No. 10:

Woods followed that up with a long birdie make on the 12th:

His birdie-or-better streak continued on the par-four 13th when he stuck his approach shot on the green and rattled home another birdie putt to move to five-under on the round and six-under for the tournament:

Woods managed to get three more holes in before darkness rolled in, and he parred them all, which put him in great position to make additional moves Sunday. Considering how average Tiger looked in the first two rounds, few could have expected his outburst to start the third.

Even Woods himself was unhappy with how he was playing, especially on the greens.

According to ESPN.com's Bob Harig, Tiger said he was having a difficult time reading the putts over the first two rounds: "I am not seeing the line, I'm not feeling comfortable because I'm not seeing the line. Consequently, I'm having a hard time starting my ball online because I have a hard time seeing it. Hopefully I can find it in here in the last couple rounds."

Per Sam Farmer of the Los Angeles Times, Tiger also specifically mentioned his putting issues during the first round:

Woods' putter problems were suddenly a thing of the past in the third round when the pressure to make the cut had been alleviated.

The 14-time major champion still has an uphill climb when it comes to getting into the mix with Thomas, Adam Scott and others near the top of the leaderboard, but he has a fighting chance provided he can continue what he started in the third round.

Even if Tiger levels off and competes for a top-10 finish rather than a win, it should provide him with a huge boost in just his second tournament of the season as he prepares for bigger ones in the coming weeks and months.

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