Woods played the most dynamic golf he has all year with six birdies in his opening seven holes, building as much as a five-shot lead before he cooled off for a 5-under 65 and a three-shot lead over Rory McIlroy in the Tour Championship.
This is the first time Woods will be competing in the Tour Championship for years after returning to top form this season. Woods received the loudest roar from his gallery by holing a 24-foot birdie putt on the par-three 15th.
Woods, a 14-times major champion who has not won this year in an otherwise impressive comeback following spinal fusion surgery in 2017, delighted his overflowing gallery when he ran in consecutive birdies at the 14th and 15th holes. We've seen glimpses of vintage Woods, but he hasn't put together a comprehensive performance until now.
Three rounds of the 2018 Tour Championship are in the books, and Tiger Woods is now the golfer to beat at East Lake (a fun game is to imagine yourself a year ago reading those words a year from then). "Good Lord", Woods said afterwards. "I've got a bunch of guys behind me that have been playing well and are playing well".
The last time he was in this position was when he won the 2013 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, the most recent of his 79 PGA Tour victories.
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Rose opened with two straight bogeys before battling back, but the world's No. 1 player already was four shots behind after four holes. Woods, though, was to earn himself more breathing space before stepping from the final green. "But for me, all I can do is concentrate on myself. This is a spot I'd much rather be in than certainly four or five back".
"To be able to have played this well after coming off of what I came off of".
"I don't have to shoot 63 or 64 and hope I get help".
There has been some good play and some solid chances, but aside from the Valspar Championship, where he was just a stroke back going into the final round and couldn't make up that difference, it's mostly been a matter of trying to come from too far back.
"I felt hot early for sure".
"It's all very well winning tournaments", Rose said. It was a misplayed chip late on the back nine at The Open and a collection of missed putts at the PGA Championship, although in his defense it's unlikely anyone could have caught Brooks Koepka at Bellerive.