Tiger Woods was playing his second nine holes on Saturday before the leaders in the WGC Cadillac Championship had teed off on at Doral, and by that time had already cut his deficit in half on the famed “Blue Monster” course. Woods had four birdies and only one bogey on his way to a 33 on the front nine to move to 2-over for the tournament and serve notice to those hitting their drives on the first hole that he was going to be a factor by the time the tournament ended Sunday.
Woods matched that with another 33 on the back and posted the best round of the day at 66, improving his total to 1-under after three rounds. He began the day tied for 25th and is now tied for fourth, three strokes behind Patrick Reed who had 69 Saturday for a three-round total of 4-under par.
Reed was one of four players who shared the lead at minus-1 to start the day. He played the front nine in 1-under, with a bogey on the fourth and an eagle on the par-5 8th hole. His back nine included three birdies—one of them by two-putting after driving the green on the par-4 16th. Hunter Mahan is the only other second round leader who is still ahead of Tiger. Mahan is tied for second at 2-under after a 71 on Saturday. He would have been in second place by himself but had to punch out of trouble from the trees on the right side of the 18th fairway and finished with a bogey. Dustin Johnson had 73 today to move back to a tie for sixth at even par. Matt Kuchar had the worst day of the 4 second-round leaders carding a 2-over 74. He is tied for ninth.
Joining Mahan at minus-2 is Jason Dufner who had six birdies in a stretch of eight holes in the middle of his round en route to a 4-under 68. If not for a double bogey on number-3, Dufner would have a share of the lead.
As Woods cut into his deficit, Phil Mickelson spent another day of playing catch-up at Doral. After taking three straight double bogeys early in the second round on Friday, Mickelson had 3 bogeys in the first six holes on Saturday. Ballooning to 8-over par at one point, the world number-5 player poured in six birdies the rest of the way to finish with 69. He is 2-over par for the tournament and tied for 14th.
Tiger Woods came in to the newly-renovated Doral golf course cold, having to skip practice rounds early in the week because of treatments he was receiving on his lower back after withdrawing from the Honda Classic last weekend in the final round. Starting the day six shots back it looked like Woods had used his first two rounds to get acquainted with the new layout, reducing the deficit to a manageable 3 strokes by the time play was over on Saturday. The absence of Friday’s strong winds helped too. Woods said after the round that the course was “more playable” on Saturday, and was looking forward to competing on a Sunday for the first time on the PGA Tour this season. He’ll be playing in the second-to-last group on Sunday with Mahan, right in front of Dufner and Reed.
By Chuck Podhaisky