Then came some help from the heavens.
Woods couldnt make a putt, scowled more than he smiled, and was struggling to stay at par on a day when the Blue Monster was yielding birdies. What stopped his slide was a rumble of thunder and a torrential storm that dumped 3 inches of rain and suspended the third round until Sunday morning.
Geoff Ogilvy was at 14-under par through 11 holes and kept his one-shot lead, only now it was Adam Scott on his heels, not the worlds No. 1 player who has won every tournament he has played since September.
Woods was at 11 under, even for the day, the only player among the top 18 who was not under par for the round.
Scott was practically flawless, making up five shots in five holes against Woods, taking the outright lead with a 25-foot birdie putt that swirled around the cup before falling, looking confident with every hole he played. Ogilvy still hasnt made a bogey this week, and two late birdies allowed him to regain the lead.
And then it rained.
If it was our day, Scott said, it was cut off way too short.
They will resume play Sunday at 8:30 a.m.'if conditions allow'to finish the third round, with the final round of this World Golf Championship scheduled for Sunday afternoon.
The break could not have come at a better time for Woods, who three-putted his first three holes, had two other putts spin off the lip and picked up his only birdie when his wedge stopped 30 inches away on No. 7.
Im right there, only three back, Woods said. A lot of holes to be played tomorrow. And hopefully, I can get it going and get hot for the rest of the day.
The CA Championship looked like it might be a three-man race, but now is loaded with possibilities. Although the third round is incomplete, Woods headed back to his yacht in a three-way tie for third place.
Vijay Singh was 8 under for his round through 16 holes and faced a 7-foot birdie putt on the 17th when he returned. Also at 11 under for the tournament was Tim Clark, who was 7 under through 15 holes. Graeme Storm nearly made an ace on the par-3 15th that put him at 10 under with three holes remaining. Jim Furyk was 10 under through 13 holes.
Five shots separated eight players when the third round was stopped.
No one was complaining.
Look, its where you want to be, Ogilvy said. You want to be leading with 25 holes to play. Im happy with where Im at. If I can keep playing the way Im playing and putt well, you never know.
All signs pointed toward Woods seizing control of this tournament. He is the three-time defending champion at Doral and at this WGC event, he was swinging well, making every important putt and had the good vibes of winning six straight official events around the world.
Woods gets weary when people anoint him before the trophy is handed out, and he showed what can happen Saturday.
He reached the back of the green on the par-5 opening hole, but left himself 70 feet on the fringe. He lagged to about 4 feet, but his birdie putt banged off the back lip. That ended Woods streak of 18 consecutive birdies or better on the first hole at Doral.
Then he three-putted the next hole, lipping out from 3 1/2 feet and making bogey.
To three-putt the first two holes right out of the gate, never a good thing, Woods said.
Scott, meanwhile, looked determined to erase those two bogeys he made at the end of the second round. He holed a 20-foot birdie putt on the third hole, and raised his putter when a 25-foot birdie dropped on the fifth. He missed two other birdie putts inside 8 feet.
Ogilvy couldnt find the fairway, but kept his rhythm with par after par until making a 4-foot birdie on the seventh. He couldnt help but notice that Woods was lagging behind.
He was hitting it very well. He just didnt putt like he normally putts, Ogilvy said. It was just one of those stretches that was probably frustrating the hell out of him. He was playing fine. He just didnt make anything.
The break in play could prove beneficial to Woods, as if he needs any help.
He has trailed going into the final round only twice during this winning streak, by one shot at the BMW Championship and by four shots at the Dubai Desert Classic. But it looked for the longest time on a short day Saturday that Ogilvy and Scott had a chance to put some room between them and Woods.
I would have liked to get the round in, Scott said. My round had gone a little stale after a fast start, and I was looking forward to getting to the 12th, a par 5, and giving myself a chance to get moving in the right direction. Geoff just got a little momentum going toward the end of the front nine. And yeah, Tiger was struggling a little bit to get it going.
It would have been nice to keep playing more holes. But my attitude is the day is over. Well start tomorrow just like we did today, and hopefully, I get off to a fast start and set the tone.