Tiger Shares 54-Hole Lead in Dubai


DUBAI, United Arab Emirates -- Tiger Woods will be looking to make it 2-for-2.
After stealing a playoff win last week at the Buick Invitational -- his first event of 2006 -- Woods will be seeking his 13th international title at the Dubai Desert Classic when he begins the final round on Sunday with a share of the lead.
Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods has reason to smile as he has put himself in position to win his second straight event.
Woods fired a 5-under 67 in the third round Saturday to reach 16-under-par 200 for the tournament. He birdied the 18th hole to join playing partner and European Tour regular Anders Hansen (69) atop the leaderboard.
The duo have good company: Retief Goosen, also playing in the final threesome Saturday, shot a 2-under 70 and is one shot behind in third place at 15 under; while defending champion and three-time tournament winner Ernie Els is two shots back at minus-14 after a third-round 68.
But Woods will be the elephant in the room during the final round at Emirates Golf Club.
A fiercely strong front-runner who is maybe the best closer in the history of men's golf, Woods will be in the minds of the other challengers on Sunday. But as Hansen knows, the other players have to play their own game.
'He's got his own gallery out there and people are shouting him on, but you've just got to deal with that,' said Hansen. 'I can't do anything about what he (Woods) is going to do tomorrow...Tiger is just class. He's probably going to come in for his interview now and say that he didn't have his A game.'
Not quite. Woods was modest, but he seemed at least a little pleased with his round -- especially since he didn't think he had a chance to be in the lead with a couple of holes left.
'Luckily I made up there, I didn't think I was,' Woods admitted.
'I hit the ball pretty good today,' he said, before adding later, 'You can always do better. It's golf.'
The reigning champion at both the Masters and British Open, Woods began the day at 11-under -- two shots behind co-second round leaders Goosen and Hansen.
Woods started making strides at the par-5 third, where he chipped within 2 feet to set up a birdie. Another birdie at the par-4 sixth -- on a 5-foot putt -- moved him to minus-13.
After dropping a stroke with a bogey at the eighth, Woods was still two shots off the pace around the turn. But he played the back nine bogey-free while Hansen and Goosen both sputtered during stretches.
After three birdies during a five-hole stretch -- at 10, 13 and 14 -- Woods was tied with Hansen for second place. Goosen, who eagled 18 on Friday for his share of the overnight lead, lost his third-round lead with consecutive bogeys at the 15th and 16th holes.
'It was an up and down day, especially on the back nine with three birdies and three bogeys,' said Goosen. 'They were stupid bogeys, to be honest. I feel disappointed right now, but I have another chance tomorrow.'
Goosen's gaffes opened the door for the others, and Hansen reached 16 under first with a birdie at 16. Woods soon caught up by rolling in a short birdie putt at 18 despite taking a drop when he hooked his second shot into the grandstand.
'I've got 18 more holes with a bunch of guys with a chance,' said Woods, who has two top-5 finishes in his last two starts at this event. 'Hopefully tomorrow I can put together a good round and see what happens.'
Miguel Angel Jimenez tied for the day's lowest round with a 6-under 66. He shares fourth place at 14 under with Els and 1997 champion Richard Green, who shot a 69.
Nick Dougherty is alone in seventh place at minus-13 after a 70, while Bradley Dredge (68) and Peter Lawrie (69) are one stroke further back in a tie for eighth.
Colin Montgomerie, the reigning Order of Merit champion and a 1996 winner at this event, was among the 43 players to miss the minus-1 cut line after the second round was finished in the morning.
Related Links:
  • Leaderboard - Dubai Desert Classic
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  • Full Coverage - Dubai Desert Classic