As Tiger Woods Fades, Charley Hoffman Builds a Five-Stroke Lead

As Tiger Woods Fades, Charley Hoffman Builds a Five-Stroke Lead


Hoffman hit his share, sending his tee shot far right into the bushes on a sand dune right of the 10th fairway. He took a penalty drop onto a sandy path and wound up with a double bogey that brought a half-dozen players back into the mix.

But not for long.

Hoffman closed with three birdies over his last five holes, including the 18th hole for the second straight day. That put him at 14-under 202.

Justin Rose, an Albany resident, had a 71 and joined the British Open champion Jordan Spieth (72) at nine-under 207.

Francesco Molinari of Italy was another shot behind.

“I got lucky on some tee balls that didn’t find the bushes and stayed in the sandy areas and I was able to sort of scrap it around,” Hoffman said. “I’m going to have to handle my nerves a little better than I did today”

Photo

Tiger Woods, reacting after missing his putt on the 12th hole, followed rounds of 69 and 68 with a 75 on Saturday, but was pleased with the way his return to golf went over all.

Credit
Kyle Terada/USA Today Sports, via Reuters

Woods was under pressure early. In his previous two rounds of 69 and 68, he was under par early in the round. This one started with a tee shot into the waste area, an approach the wind knocked down short of the green and a chip that was too strong, running 10 feet by and leading to a bogey.

Even his good shots didn’t work out for him. Woods blistered a 3-wood from 278 yards into the wind and saw it run through the green into a tough lie. His chip didn’t reach the green. His next chip ran six feet by the hole and he missed the par putt.

He bogeyed the next par-5 when he didn’t play for a flier out of the rough, went well long and was left in such a tough spot that he played away from the flag and his pitch went through the green to the fringe.

He already was five over for his round through 10 holes, and he did well not to drop any more shots until he made a pair of birdies late.

Woods began his round by giving a hug to his 10-year-old daughter and 8-year-old son, who flew over from Florida. Even after a 75, he still managed to look at the big picture. He was hitting the ball well, his back felt strong and he at least feels as though he can contend.

“I think, over all, I’m very happy with what’s going on this week,” Woods said. “There were a lot of questions that I had — I’m sure you guys have had — and I feel like I’ve come out on a good side.”

But he made it clear he had fewer questions about his performance than the public.

“I knew how I was playing at home,” he said. “I knew how I was hitting shots. I knew what was going on. Obviously, the very intelligent people out there didn’t know.”

This is the second straight year the 54-hole leader has built a cushion. Hideki Matsuyama led by seven shots last year and held on to beat Henrik Stenson.

It would be a great way for Hoffman to cap off a peculiar year. He has not won a tournament since the Texas Open in May 2016, but he was in the mix at the Masters and the United States Open and played on his first Presidents Cup team.

“To have a chance to win this great tournament, hopefully I can knock it off,” Hoffman said.

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