DUBAI // On a fascinating third day of wind-blown roller-coaster rides for the top players, Tiger Woods experienced the most spectacular of the highs and lows in the space of a remarkable 45 minutes around the turn.
The large gallery following the American for the third day running suspected their idol had blown his chance to capture a third Dubai Desert Classic title after pulling his approach to the difficult ninth into the lake in front of the green to incur a disastrous double bogey which followed a dropped shot at the eighth.
Within a flash, Woods had retrieved all three of those surrendered strokes by chipping in for an eagle at the 10th and holing for a birdie two at the next.
Another two, from 10 feet at the 15th, got him back to where he started, at seven under par, only for him to suffer another lapse at the 16th where he was severely punished for one of several inaccurate drives.
Undaunted, he nailed a splendid 20-footer at 18 to get back to level par for the day and remain in contention to end his title drought as one of a group of seven players only a single shot behind the three joint-leaders.
The former world No 1 and 14-time major champion feared it would be a difficult day after his faultless round of 66 on Friday. He warned then that it was going to be hard to pick up shots on what he had been informed would be a blustery weekend, and so it proved.
Woods's reaction to his defiant 70 was a perfect summing up. "I got off to a tough start, then battled back, then lost it before the turn, then battled back again, then lost it again and battled back at the 18th. It was tough out there."