Tiger Woods goes two ahead as he eyes 50th career title

GRAND BLANC (Michigan): Tiger Woods birdied two of his final three holes to grab a two-shot lead in the Buick Open third round and move within sight of his 50th career title on Saturday. 

The world number one, fresh from his British Open triumph, made a dubious start with a bogey at the second but was flawless the rest of the way, hitting seven birdies to post a third successive 66 for a total of 18-under 198. 

Lurking just two shots back were Americans Lucas Glover and Scott Verplank and Australia’s Robert Allenby, who all returned 66s under ideal scoring conditions at the Warwick Hills Golf and Country Club to get to 16-under 200. 

EYE OF THE TIGER: Tiger Woods lines up a putt en route to opening up a two-shot leadafter the third round of the Buick Open in Michigan on Saturday. – REUTERSpic

Certainly the odds favour Woods’ bid for a milestone title, the 11-times major champion having won 35-of-38 events he has led going into the final round. 

“Some of it’s luck,” said Woods, when asked about his record. “I guess it’s because I’ve won enough times growing up as a junior and having leads before, and I’ve done it. 

“There’s nothing more that helps your confidence than being able to say, I’ve done this before.” 

Woods said he would try to continue playing the way he has been in the final round. 

“You have to make a bunch of birdies,” Woods said. “I think it’s just a matter of plugging along and trying to make as many birdies as you possibly can when you have the opportunity, because you know you have to.” 

Two-times defending champion Vijay Singh moved into contention for an unprecedented third consecutive and fourth Buick title with a four-under 68 to headline a group of five players sitting just three off the lead. 

Joining the Fijian at 15-under 201 were Canadians Mike Weir (68) and Stephen Ames (66) and Americans Joe Durant (67) and Vaughn Taylor, who shot a best-of-the-day 63 to rocket up the leaderboard. 

“You’ve got to play well here,” Vijay said. “You can’t just go crazy low because the golf course is playing easy. You have to go out there and play well and hit good shots and make the putts. 

“I have to do that tomorrow. Hopefully, I can go out there and make a putt.” 

With a second Buick victory, the 30-year-old Woods would become the youngest golfer to reach 50 career PGA Tour wins, replacing Jack Nicklaus who got to the milestone when he was 33. 

Playing his first event since capturing his 11th major a Hoylake, Woods has continued to strike the ball superbly though he has also enjoyed some luck at Warwick Hills. On the 18th hole on Saturday his wayward tee shot hit a spectator and bounced back out on to the fairway. 

Woods later found the spectator, who injured his hand, and gave him a signed glove before carrying on to close out his round with an eight-foot birdie putt. 

“I thought I hit the ball pretty good today,” Woods said. “Made some nice putts and basically just stayed out of trouble, except on 18, I got a nice little break over there. That ball was probably dead; hit a gentleman on the hand.” 

·FORMER Buick Open champion Billy Mayfair was diagnosed with testicular cancer and underwent surgery this week. 

“I’m doing well and I want to thank everyone for their well wishes and support, and especially want to thank Dr Brito and the Scottsdale Healthcare Shea Hospital for the urgency they displayed in dealing with my health and well-being,” Mayfair said in a statement read during third-round television coverage of the Buick Open on Saturday. 

Detroit newspapers said Mayfair learned of the cancer on Monday after arriving in Grand Blanc and immediately withdrew from the tournament to return home to Phoenix. – Reuters 

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