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Hero World Challenge 2019: Gary Woodland Holds 1-Shot Lead Entering Final Round

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistDecember 6, 2019

Tiger Woods of the United States, left, and Gary Woodland of the United States stand on the 14th green during the final round of the Zozo Championship PGA Tour at the Accordia Golf Narashino country club in Inzai, east of Tokyo, Japan, Monday, Oct. 28, 2019. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)
Lee Jin-man/Associated Press

Gary Woodland will carry a one-stroke lead into the final round of the 2019 Hero World Challenge after carding a four-under 68 during Friday's third round at the Albany Golf Course in New Providence, Bahamas. 

Woodland, who stands at 13 under through 54 holes, is followed by Henrik Stenson (-12) on the star-studded, jam-packed leaderboard. Tournament host Tiger Woods, Justin Thomas and Jon Rahm are two strokes off the pace at 11 under.

Second-round leader Patrick Reed finished tied with Stenson at 12 under, but was assessed a two-shot penalty for moving sand behind his ball on two practice swings on No. 11:

PGA TOUR Communications @PGATOURComms

Patrick Reed was assessed a two-stroke penalty for violating Rule 8.1a (4) — “Removing or pressing down sand or loose soil” on No. 11.

So the stage is set for a wild final round in the Bahamas as six of the best golfers in the world are within three shots of the lead.

Reed couldn't take advantage of an opportunity to pull away atop the leaderboard after finishing Thursday's round with a three-stroke lead. He recorded three birdies and three bogeys in the third round prior to the announcement of the penalty that dropped him to 10 under.

That allowed the rest of the chase pack in the exclusive 18-player field to make a move.

Woodland is enjoying a strong start to the 2019-20 season. He finished third in the CJ Cup and fifth in the Zozo Championship in October. Taking November off seemingly hasn't impacted his form as he's in prime position heading into the final round.

PGA TOUR @PGATOUR

Impressive back-to-back birdies on 17 and 18 has @GaryWoodland in the solo lead at -13 after three rounds. https://t.co/SdgR9cJNpd

The 35-year-old Kansas native posted five birdies and one bogey during Friday's action.

Stenson is seeking his first victory since the 2017 Wyndham Championship. He would have shared the top spot if not for a bogey on his final hole in Round 3. It was the only blemish on his scorecard, and he's only tallied four bogeys through 54 holes.

PGA TOUR @PGATOUR

First try: Wrong hole Second try: Right hole Not your average birdie for @HenrikStenson. https://t.co/MalLqlAv1M

Meanwhile, Woods came alive with four birdies on the back nine to put himself in the mix to win the Hero World Challenge for a sixth time. He last raised the trophy in 2011.

The 15-time major champion continued his trend of sluggish starts—he bogeyed the first three holes of the Zozo Championship in October before storming back to win the event—with a 72 on Wednesday. He's played 11 under over his last 31 holes to climb the leaderboard.

PGA TOUR @PGATOUR

Closing out Round 3 strong. @TigerWoods birdies three of his last five holes including the 18th to go 5-under on the day. https://t.co/S2Bk1yfT3p

It's an important event for Woods as he attempts to fine-tune his own game while preparing to serve as a playing captain for the United States at the 2019 Presidents Cup in Australia next week.

Television coverage of the final round begins Saturday at 10 a.m. ET on Golf Channel before switching to NBC at noon.