There are good starts to a round a golf, great starts and then there is what Tiger Woods did on Saturday at the Tour Championship.
Entering Saturday’s third round tied with 36-hole co-leader Justin Rose, Woods opened up a five-stroke lead by the seventh hole thanks to six birdies in his first seven holes.
“Yeah, I got off to a nice start there,” Woods said in the understantement of the day, according to PGATour.com’s Cameron Morfit. “I made some nice putts. Good Lord. I left myself in good spots, too, so I was able to take a run at some of the putts. Other than No. 3, every putt was uphill, so it was nice. I felt like I could free-wheel it, and they went in.”
Woods’ quick move away from the field wasn’t confined to his playing partner; scoreboards all across East Lake had the world’s best players taking notice.
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) September 22, 2018
“I was looking at the board and it said 6-under through seven; that’s incredible,” Tony Finau said. “I played a practice round with him Tuesday and, you know, his ball-striking ability is incredible and you know when he’s making some putts he’s going to make some noise.”
“The crowds were electric because of it,” Woods’ playing partner, Rose, said. “He was running the tables there. He was hitting good shots and making the conversion putts.”
“He was 6-under through seven on, I think, the tougher (nine),” Paul Casey said. “I tend not to pay much attention to what’s going on most of the time, but I’ll be honest, it’s been a while since we’ve seen that sort of display from Tiger, so it’s kind of cool to pay attention to it.”
All good things must come to an end, and Woods cooled off to play the final 11 holes in 1-over par, but the incredible start allowed him to open up a three-stroke lead over Rose and Rory McIlroy heading into Sunday outside of Atlanta. Woods hasn’t won on the PGA Tour since the 2013 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.
“I’ve felt very comfortable when I got into the mix there at Tampa even though it was very early in my start to this year. And because of that, I felt comfortable when I got to Bay Hill, when I grabbed the lead at The Open Championship,” Woods said. “Things that didn’t really feel abnormal, even though it’s been years, literally years, since I’ve been in those spots, but I think I’ve been in those spots enough times that muscle memory, I guess I remembered it, and I felt comfortable in those spots.”