Woods shot a 5-under-par 67 to move to 16-under through three rounds; good enough for a six-shot lead over his nearest competitor, David Duval.
In perfect scoring conditions, the world's best players set out to assault an almost defenseless Old Course in the third round. Led by Duval, the field made a run at Woods, who entered the weekend with a three-shot lead.
At one point on Saturday, Duval, Thomas Bjorn and Loren Roberts climbed to within two of Tiger. David Toms, Ernie Els and Steve Flesch all managed to get within one. But just as the tournament was tightening, Wood pulled away.
After a bogey at the 2nd, which ended his streak of 63 straight holes in a major event without dropping a shot, Woods responded on the very next hole by sinking a 7-footer for birdie. He carded a second birdie at the 8th and antoher at the 9th. He then strung together three straight birdies beginning at the 12th. Woods did make a second bogey at 'The Road Hole' 17th, but just as he did at the beginning of the round, Woods closed with his 7th birdie of the day.
'I need to go out and execute my shots one at a time,' said Woods. 'I have 18 more holes to get the job done.
'I guess the media finally got what it wanted. The media gets the top two players in the world against each other. Really it's just two friends playing.'
Tiger vs. David. It's what we've all been waiting for. A showdown between the world's No. 1 and No. 2 ranked players in the final group, in the final round of a major championship. But thanks to his otherworldly play, Woods has dulled the anticipation.
Duval did what he had to do on Saturday. Battling back spasms, he fired a bogey-free 66. Still it wasn't enough. Trailing Tiger by seven shots as the day began, Duval picked up only a single stroke by round's end.
'Well, at least I get to look him in the eyes,' Duval said of his final round confrontation with Woods. 'I felt like I played like the first two days, except that today I eliminated the mistakes. I feel like my game is back to where it should be and that I can win events like these.'
Els had the potential to make the biggest splash in the third round. After a bogey at the 1st, he birdied the 3rd, 5th, 6th, 8th and 10th holes to move to 10-under-par. At the time he was just one off the lead. Once Tiger birdied the 8th, Els was two back entering the 12th. That's where Els' chances of catching Tiger by the tail ended. The smooth swinging South African hit into an unplayable lie off the tee. He was forced to take a drop. Two swings and two putts later, Els had carded a double bogey and fell four back of Woods. He parred his final six holes to enter the final round eight off the lead at 8-under.
Tiger carried a ten-shot lead into the final round of the 100th U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, where he shot a Sunday 67 to win by 15. If he can hold on to win at St. Andrews, Woods will become the youngest player to complete the career Grand Slam. He would join Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Ben Hogan and Gene Sarazen as the only men to accomplish that feat.
If Tiger can shoot a 66 or better on Sunday he will break the Open Championship 72-hole aggregate scoring record, set by Greg Norman (267) at Royal St. George's in 1993.
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