x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Host Woods on course in Maryland

Tiger Woods shares a lead with Anthony Kim into the final round of the AT&T National in Maryland.

Tiger Woods clenches his fist in triumph as he holes an eagle on the ninth at the Congressional Country Club in Maryland.
Tiger Woods clenches his fist in triumph as he holes an eagle on the ninth at the Congressional Country Club in Maryland.

Tournament host Tiger Woods overcame a shaky start to his third round at the Congressional Country Club to set up a final-day showdown with defending champion Anthony Kim at the AT&T National in Maryland. World No 1 Woods shot a level-par 70 to remain in the lead heading into the fourth round at 10 under par. It was a shared lead, though, as fellow American Kim posted a 68 to reach the same mark and make a date in the final pairing in Bethesda later today. Woods' bid to win the PGA Tour tournament he hosts in the Washington DC area to benefit the Tiger Woods Foundation had suffered a series of setbacks having begun the day with a one-shot lead at 10 under par. Woods had led Australia's Rod Pampling with Kim in third place at eight under at the start of the day.

But, playing with Pampling in the final group out at the par-70 Blue Course and in front of big crowds celebrating American Independence Day, Woods immediately hit trouble, finding left rough off the tee at the 402-yard, par-four first hole. His second shot failed to reach the green, landing in more rough between fairway and bunker and his third shot left him with a 10-foot par putt which Woods did not convert, tapping in for bogey to fall into a shared lead with Pampling at nine under. Pampling then moved into the outright lead with a birdie at the par-four third to go to 10 under, one shot ahead of Woods, who won the Bay Hill and Memorial tournaments earlier this year. Then the Australian bogeyed holes four and five while Woods bogeyed the par-four sixth before recording his first birdie of the day with a three at the eighth.

An eagle three followed at the 602-yard ninth courtesy of a 366-yard drive and a 25-foot putt, but Woods then double bogeyed the par-four 11th, hopping from left rough to front-left greenside bunker to left greenside bunker before three-putting for a six. Woods got back to level for the day with a birdie at the par-five 16th on his way to what was a disappointing 70 for the 14-time major winner. Kim, who on Thursday had shot a course-record 64, had also got off to a bad start with a bogey at the opening hole but he bounced back with a birdie at the third and eighth. A bogey followed at the ninth but he birdied the 12th and 16th en route to his 68.

Woods and Kim are a shot clear of the American duo Michael Allen, the 50-year-old US Senior PGA champion who shot a 65, and Cameron Beckman, whose 66 got him to nine under. A 69 put Jim Furyk at eight under while Pampling crashed the July 4 party to share fifth place with a 71 that featured an 83-foot birdie putt at the par-four 14th hole. US Open champion Lucas Glover got to seven under following a 68 that left him in seventh place, three shots off the lead, while Americans Cliff Kresge, Bryce Molder and Ryan Moore were in a tie for eighth with Japan's Ryuji Imada and New Zealander Danny Lee at six under. Sweden's Daniel Chopra finished the third round as the leading European at four under following a 72, while Justin Rose led the small British contingent at Congressional, venue for the 2011 US Open.

The Englishman's round of 69 took him to three under for the week and a tie for 22nd but his compatriot Brian Davis shot a 74 to slip to six over while Scotland's Martin Laird continued his tournament-leading accuracy off the tee but struggled with his short game and slumped to a 76, seven over for the week. *PA Sport