Eagle-Eye Tiger Keeps Lead

By Sports NetworkSeptember 30, 2006, 4:00 pm
2006 WGC American Express ChampionshipCHANDLER'S CROSS, England -- Though he may see things differently, Tiger Woods is comfortably in position for his sixth straight win.
Woods eagled the 18th hole for the third consecutive day to finish a 4-under 67 at the WGC-American Express Championship on Saturday, getting to 19-under-194 for a six-shot lead heading into the final round.
Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods is in position for his sixth straight PGA TOUR win.
He missed a slew of short birdie putts early in his round and watched his lead dwindle to two shots at one point, but Woods' 33-foot putt at the 18th has him closer to his fifth win at this World Golf Championships event.
'I didn't putt very good today and still increased my lead, so it's a pretty good feeling,' said Woods.
This is a PGA TOUR-sanctioned tournament, meaning a Woods victory on Sunday would technically add to his streak of consecutive winning starts.
He won five straight tournaments beginning at the British Open in July, then lost in the first round of the HSBC World Match Play Championship two weeks ago.
Although Woods acknowledged he believes the winning streak is over -- 'It ended two weeks ago,' he said Wednesday -- the PGA TOUR sees things differently.
Either way, Woods seems to have his 54th career victory -- and 12th individual WGC title -- all but wrapped up.
Adam Scott (65) trails by six at 13-under 200, while Brett Quigley (67) and Woods' Ryder Cup teammate Jim Furyk (69) are one shot further back at 201.
'You never know,' Scott said, 'there might be a chance to run him down tomorrow.'
Not likely.
In PGA TOUR events, Woods is 37-3 when leading after three rounds. The last time he lost with at least a share of the 54-hole lead was at the 2004 TOUR Championship, when Retief Goosen overcame a four-shot deficit and beat him by four.
Woods has won seven straight times as a third-round leader on the PGA TOUR, including four of his seven victories this year.
Saturday, he began with a five-shot lead after his best 36-hole start in six years.
In addition to the eagle, Woods had three birdies and one bogey at The Grove, where he entered the week as the defending champion and a four-time winner.
Woods opened with seven consecutive pars, missing four frustrating birdie putts within eighth feet during that span.
He bogeyed the par-4 eighth, then got back to 15 under around the turn when he finally made a birdie putt, from 10 feet at the ninth.
'It was a struggle on the greens all day,' Woods said. 'Didn't have the feel, didn't have the pace, and consequently I missed a bunch of short ones early in the round.'
Leading by two shots, Woods missed a 6-foot birdie putt at the 10th. But he led by four shots after rolling in a 7-foot birdie at the 12th.
He was in position for a birdie at the 13th, where he missed a 10-footer, and then again at the 15th, where he made a 2-footer to extend his lead from three shots to four again.
At the par-5 18th, Woods knocked his approach shot from the rough about 270 yards to the front of the green. It rolled within 33 feet, and he drained it for the finishing eagle.
'I hit it way too hard, so it was kind of nice that it went in,' Woods said.
He made a 20-foot eagle at the 18th to finish his round on Thursday, then drained a 10-footer there Friday for an eagle on his ninth hole.
Charl Schwartzel, currently 40th in a field of 60, was the only other player who eagled the 18th on Saturday.
'It's been good to me, hasn't it?' Woods said.
Stewart Cink, another one of Woods' teammates from the losing American Ryder Cup team, shot a 70 and is alone in fifth place at 11-under 202.
European Ryder Cuppers David Howell (71) and Henrik Stenson (68) share sixth place with Ian Poulter (68) at 10-under 203.
Ernie Els, European Ryder Cupper Padraig Harrington and Trevor Immelman are one shot further back at 204.
Tee times for the final round were moved up more than 2 1/2 hours due to the threat of localized thunderstorms. Players will be sent off in threesomes on No. 1 and No. 10 from 4:00-5:37 a.m. ET.
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