• The Tour Championship, Round Three

Woods still fighting in FedEx scrap

ESPN staff
September 22, 2012
Tiger Woods had his focus back during the third round © PA Photos

Tour Championship leaderboard

Tiger Woods delivered a trademark clinic in how to consistently plot your way out of trouble on Saturday, maintaining pressure on Rory McIlroy in the third round of The Tour Championship as a host of players queued up for FedEx Cup glory.

After a shocking second round Woods rediscovered his composure in the third, improving to an overall score of four-under to stay in contention for the FedEx trophy. McIlroy is poised on five-under, meaning it is all to play for on Sunday as tournament leaders Brandt Snedeker and Justin Rose remain significant FedEx contenders on eight-under-par.

Snedeker currently tops the FedEx projections and will take home the $10 million jackpot if he wins on Sunday. However, that is also true of Rose, Ryan Moore and Jim Furyk, all of whom are in the top six at East Lake Golf Club, while McIlroy can still steal the prize if he enjoys a strong final day.

Woods' early work off the tee left a lot to be desired as he battled his way along the front nine, birdying four before dropping one at seven. However, he can always rely on his excellent short game, and a sand-save to within a foot of the hole at nine saw him turn at one-under for the day.

There were further chances for Woods to advance his score at 10 and 11 as he began to threaten the course with regularity, eventually rattling one in at 12 to move to three-under. The 15th brought more joy and then he scrambled marvellously to save par at 16 after his second shot had crashed into a tree. With McIlroy in his sights on Sunday, the American will fancy a final assault in a bid for the FedEx crown.

McIlroy has work to do after he ceded pole position to Snedeker in the FedEx race, but it is a pursuit the Northern Irishman can still win if he can catches fire on Sunday. Opening with a bogey at one and birdie at two, the world No. 1 produced a poor chip to drop another at seven before he cancelled that out at nine to turn on level-par for the day.

A perfectly judged birdie putt at 10 got McIlroy's back nine off to a positive start as he moved to four-under for the tournament, before he went searching for an eagle again at 15 - settling for birdie. A bunker save at 18 allowed him to sign for a 68 that leaves him three strokes off the tournament leaders, with Snedeker as the man to target in the final round.

"I wanted to make that putt at the last," McIlroy told Sky Sports. "I didn't want to give a shot away there right at the end. It was very nice to get that ball up and down from the bunker.

"I felt like I played pretty solidly. It's just a golf course where you've got to stay patient. If you hit it in the rough you're going to make par. I don't think anyone is really going that low. I may need a low one tomorrow, hopefully I've saved it for the last day."

Furyk and Rose, the top two players heading into the weekend, spent the majority of Saturday's play looking too tense to make a telling move as those beneath them closed the gap. Both men needed a series of pressure putts to reach the ninth at par for the day, before they matched each other birdie for birdie to turn at one-under.

Rose was first to gain ground on his playing partner as he birdied 11 to move level at the top of the leaderboard on eight-under, maintaining his score to sit third in the FedEx race. Furyk, though, will head into Sunday's play way down the standings after a triple-bogey at 17 dented his chances.

American Snedeker took advantage of the dithering going on ahead of him, firing a 64 to move into pole position. However, Bubba Watson and Moore require a watchful eye after they kept in contention on five-under and six-under respectively.

Luke Donald looked set to post a forgettable score as he advanced to the 14th on level-par, but the Brit drew a roar from the crowd when he eagled the 14th. Donald eventually signed for a 67 to close on three-under heading into the final round.

Lee Westwood's horrendous week got even worse as he shot his most expensive round of the tournament to fall back to 11-over. Less than a week out from the Ryder Cup Westwood's game is all over the place and he props up the field going into the final day.

Phil Mickelson is hardly looking much better for US hopes at Medinah, signing for a 72 to drop to two-over. Steve Stricker and Keegan Bradley also have plenty to ponder, finishing day three on three-over.

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