• WGC-Cadillac Championship, Round Three

Tiger tightens grip at Doral

ESPN staff
March 9, 2013
Tiger Woods' distance control from the fairway was excellent once again © Getty Images

WGC-Cadillac Championship leaderboard

Tiger Woods remains on course for a seventh win in the WGC-Cadillac Championship after extending his lead over Graeme McDowell to four shots.

The event looked over mid-way through the round as Woods had stretched his lead over the field to six, but McDowell eagled 16 and a bizarre moment on 17 - when his tee shot got stuck up a tree - cost the leader a shot and Woods was forced to settle for a four-shot lead heading into the final round at Doral.

Woods and McDowell set about their third rounds like prizefighters, with Woods opening up with three successive birdies - while McDowell eagled the first and birdied the third.

McDowell actually had a putt to take the lead on the seventh, but it slipped by on the low side.

Woods fired a wayward tee shot on eight to suggest the pressure from McDowell was weighing him down, but he advanced his ball up the par five and fired a stunning approach to five feet which set up a birdie.

After failing to take his chance to move ahead, McDowell faltered. He produced a superb second on the par five 10th to find the green in two. But after Woods had stuffed his third in close and knocked in the birdie, McDowell three putted which allowed the world No. 2 to extend his lead to two shots.

The lead was extended to three on 11, as McDowell made his first bogey of the tournament when missing from seven feet.

An ugly double-bogey at 14 saw McDowell slip six behind, but with Woods threatening to run away the 2010 US Open champion did rescue his round by chipping in for an eagle on 16.

And one hole later he was within three shots thanks to a bizarre incident. Woods' tee shot faded to the right, but he did not look concerned as he went for his tee peg in rapid fashion. But just as he was bending down, his ball was nesting in a tree. Thankfully for Woods, and his caddie Joe LaCava, officials were able to identify the ball without the need to climb the tree.

It still cost him a penalty shot and only his second bogey of the round. Woods, though, regrouped with a brilliant birdie - his 24th of the week - on the difficult 18th. A superb tee shot, precision approach and confident putt into the heart of the cup prompted one of those famous fist pumps of old.

Phil Mickelson and Steve Stricker will make up the penultimate group on Sunday as they both carded 69s to sit one behind McDowell at 13-under.

Mickelson was forced to play catch-up following a double-bogey on three, but he posted three fine birdies on his back nine to keep himself in the hunt.

Rory McIlroy endured another mixed day on the course, but to his credit he battled away superbly to stave off what could have been a horror day.

McIlroy bogeyed three and double-bogeyed four, both courtesy of wayward approach shots - the second of which found the water.

Another wayward approach from McIlroy on 10 saw the water gather up his ball on the par five and it resulted in another bogey for the world No. 1.

But the Ulsterman kept fighting and a fine tee shot and good putt earned him a birdie at 11 -which sparked a run of five birdies in his next six holes. He got to four-under with his birdie in 16, but a bogey on 18 saw him sign for a 71.

Lee Westwood squandered any outside chance he had of making a Sunday charge towards the top of the leaderboard by bogeying four of his final six holes. Westwood played beautifully for 11 holes and had moved to seven-under, but he never recovered from the bogey he made at 13 and he dropped back to three-under alongside McIlroy.

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