Monday, February 19, 2018
Golf

Leader Matsuyama still fears Tiger rally at Hero World Challenge

NASSAU, Bahamas — Tiger Woods started with a brief run at the lead. Hideki Matsuyama ended Saturday on his way to another victory.

Matsuyama, a winner in three of his past four tournaments, holed out for eagle on the front nine and kept his mistakes to a minimum for 7-under 65 to build a seven-shot lead in the Hero World Challenge.

Dustin Johnson (72), who entered the third round sharing the lead with Matsuyama, and Henrik Stenson (66) were at 12-under 204.

Woods was even farther back — 11 shots — though the opening hour was filled with excitement and raised expectations. Woods opened with three straight birdies then holed out a 40-yard bunker shot on the par-3 fifth hole to get within two shots.

But it didn't last.

After an 18-foot birdie putt on the 11th hole, Woods started missing fairways and dropping shots. And he ended the third round with another tee shot into the water on the 18th hole for double bogey. He settled for 70 and was in 10th place among 17 players with 208.

Matsuyama was at 19-under 197, matching the 54-hole score by defending champion Bubba Watson last year at Albany Golf Club. Watson had a two-shot lead before defeating Patrick Reed by three strokes.

Matsuyama took notice when Woods made his brief run.

"Only Tiger could take a year-and-a-half off and put up the numbers he's putting up this week," Matsuyama said. "I don't care how many strokes I'm leading over him, I still worry about him, fear him."

Asked what he would have thought at the start of the week to hear that he was 8-under through three rounds, Woods replied, "I'd have said I'd be pretty far behind. And I'm right. …

"I knew somebody was going to go low, but I thought it was going to be probably three, four guys that would post this kind of a score," Woods said. "But Hideki is just playing unbelievable golf."

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