Tiger Closing in on Second Straight Victory


2005 Buick OpenGRAND BLANC, Mich. -- Tiger Woods posted his third consecutive round of 6-under-par 66 on Saturday to move two clear of the field after three rounds of the Buick Open. He stands at 18-under-par 198 at Warwick Hills Country Club.
If Woods heads into the winner's circle - he has won 35 out of 38 times on the PGA TOUR with at least a share of the 54-hole lead - he will collect PGA TOUR victory No. 50. He would become the seventh man to accomplish the feat, but would be the youngest to do it at the age of 30.
Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods is in search of his 50th PGA TOUR victory.
'There's nothing more that helps your confidence than being able to say, 'I've done this before,' said Woods, who is two weeks removed from his emotional win at the British Open. 'My record is what it is.'
Standing in Woods' way on Sunday will be Scott Verplank, Lucas Glover and Robert Allenby, all of whom shot 66s on Saturday and are knotted at 16-under- par 200.
As if trying to catch Woods on Sunday wasn't a difficult enough task, Verplank and Glover have other things on their mind. Both are outside the top-10 on the United States Ryder Cup points list with only three weeks remaining to automatically qualify.
'We all have to earn our way,' said Glover. 'It's up to us to get there. We all want to play. Captain Lehman can make up his mind on the next two. If we earn it, we'll be stronger when we get over there.'
Before they start figuring Ryder Cup points, there's the matter of trying to catch the No. 1 player in the world.
Some players finished their second rounds on Saturday morning. Play has finally caught up as Thursday's action was called early due to inclement weather and unplayable course conditions.
Woods bogeyed his second hole, but atoned for the dropped stroke with back-to- back birdies from the third. He parred three straight, but rolled in a 25-footer for birdie at the eighth. That got Woods to 14 under par, but he trailed Vaughn Taylor by two.
When Taylor, who is 11th on the American Ryder Cup points list, three-putted the 17th green for a bogey, Woods tapped in a short birdie putt at 10 to draw even.
Several players grabbed a share of first throughout the back nine, but Woods once again distanced himself. At the par-5 13th, Woods two-putted for a birdie to get to minus-16 and take the lead, but Glover and Verplank already got into the clubhouse at the same number by the time Woods made it to the 14th tee.
He parred that hole and 15, where he hit a 9-iron from 175 yards out. Woods pulled another outrageous club at the par-5 16th, when he roped a 4-iron from 248 yards to 30 feet. His eagle putt came up well short, but Woods converted the 5-footer for birdie and the outright lead.
Woods made his way to the par-3 17th tee and a 'Let's go Tiger!' chant broke out, forcing a smile to Woods' face. His 6-iron tee ball came up 20 feet short, but he missed the putt.
His drive on the 18th became a tale of two different types of luck. Woods' tee ball struck a spectator in the hand, but sent the ball back into the fairway. After an autographed glove and quick check on the man's health, Woods knocked his second to 7 feet. He drained the putt to give himself the two-shot advantage.
'You can't sit around and make a bunch of pars,' said Woods, who won this title in 2002. 'I made some nice putts and basically just stayed out of trouble.'
Taylor finished with a 9-under 63 in the third round. He is tied for fifth place with Stephen Ames (66), Joe Durant (67), Mike Weir (68) and two-time defending champion Vijay Singh (68). The group is knotted at 15-under-par 201.
Reigning PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Sean O'Hair (66), Charley Hoffman (67), Woody Austin (68) and second-round leader Brett Quigley (71) share 10th place at minus-14.
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