AUGUSTA, Ga. — Tiger Woods shot a five-under 67 on Saturday at the Masters to stand at -11 for the tournament after three rounds. He is squarely in contention for a fifth Masters win, setting the stage for a wild Sunday spectacle at Augusta National.
Below is a hole-by-hole recap of his round, including highlights and analysis.
Hole 18, par 4: Par (-5, 67, two back)
A fantastic round of golf is capped with a solid-as-can-be par. Tiger peeled a cut off the right bunkers into the middle of the fairway—a confident swing, that—but tugged an 8-iron a bit long and left. He gave the 30-or-so foot birdie look a great run, but it slid by just left on the high side. A tap-in par caps a five-under 67 and sets the stage for one hell of a day tomorrow.
Molinari, who hasn't made a bogey since the 11th hole on Thursday, just birdied his third straight hole to get to -13.
Hole 17, par 4: Par (-5 on the day, -11 overall, one back)
Another perfect drive right in the middle of the fairway, which left a short iron from just about 160 yards. The whole world thought he'd stick that, the way he's swinging his irons, and it was right on line but well short. Two putts from there and he'll head to 18 one back, as Molinari has just birdied 13 and 14 to get to -12.
Hole 16, par 3: BIRDIE (-5 on the day, -11 overall, tied for the lead)
A flagged iron shot on 16, the site of maybe his most iconic moment ever, to just inside 7 feet. But the putt was tricky, a left-to-right breaker that guys have been missing on the low side all day. Tiger? Right in the heart. He is now tied for the Masters lead as he heads to 17.
Hole 15, par 5: BIRDIE (-4 on the day, -10 overall, one back)
He did exactly what he needed to do: birdied both par 5s on the back. This one was more textbook than the last: a drive down the middle left 216 yards downhill. Tiger went with 5 iron and carried it to the back edge before it rolled over the green. The CBS broadcast caught him saying "that's 240 yards with a 5 iron!" to his caddie. But he came up with a perfect chip, rollig it down the slope to a front pin. Tap in, and he's now -4 for the day, -10 overall and just one back of Tony FInau.
Hole 14, par 4: PAR (-3 on the day, -9 overall, two back)
A great drive there, a slight cut that finished dead center of the fairway. He tried to hit a draw to access a back-left pin but failed to turn it over. He was not happy, as the ball landed on the wrong side of a ridge and rolled to about 40 feet. He navigated one of the slowest putts on the course perfectly to a tap-in par. Another par 5 coming up now.
Also, Both Schauffele and Molinari have moved to -10. Tiger is in a tie for fourth.
Hole 13, par 5: BIRDIE (-3 on the day, -9 overall, two back)
So the tee shot didn't go very well at all—it was a high hook that was so very fortunate not to go into the water. That's now three huge breaks he's gotten (at 9, 11 and 13). He laid up with his second then hit a really, really nice low pitch to about six feet. The putt lipped in on the left side, and Tiger's now -3 for the day and just two back of Tony Finau at -9. He's tied for second with Webb Simpson, Xander Schauffele and Francesco Molinari.
Hole 12, par 3: PAR, (-2 on the day, -8 overall, three back)
Standard par there—good tee shot past the flag and two putts. Now comes the hugely imporant tee shot on 13—he needs to turn one over to get around the corner and have a chance of reaching the par 5 in 2. He's three back once again and would do well to play these two back-nine par 5s in -2 or better.
Hole No. 11, par 4: PAR (-2 on the day, -8 overall, three back)
That par cannot be described as anything but lucky. Tiger hit a foul ball way right of the fairway, but got lucky again to find a clear shot to the green. He hit a wedge to about 25 feet past the flag and two-putted for par. That's two drives in a row that went way left, and two times in a row that he got lucky and made par.
Meanwhile, Tony Finau birdied the par-5 15th to reach -11.
Hole No. 10, par 4: PAR (-2 on the day, -8 overall, two back)
A striped 3-wood down the center of the difficult par-4 10th. With his approach, from 187, he played safely right of a left pin. A really nicely-controlled shot, finishing perfectly pin high and 25 feet from the cup. Two putts from there for a routine par, and a par at 10 is never a bad score.
Hole No. 9, par 4: PAR (-2 on the day, -8 overall, two back)
The birdies are important, yes, but so are the par saves like Tiger just made at 9. He fanned his drive way right into the trees but found a window for his second, if he could keep it under a branch. He did that, ran the approach just short of the green and was fortunate that it didn't roll all the way back down the hill. A lovely pitch from there to three feet and right in the middle with the par putt.
Meanwhile, Tony Finau holed a nice birdie putt at 13 to become the first player to reach -10. Webb Simpson and Xander Schauffele are at -9, and Tiger's joined at -8 by Francesco Molinari and Jason Day.
Hole No. 8, par 5: BIRDIE (-2 on the day, -8 overall, one back)
Things are happening. Tiger smashed his drive, 314 yards uphill, to give himself a look at going for the green in two. He then hit maybe his best shot of the tournament, a laser 3 wood from 254 that finished just 10 feet from the flag. That eagle putt was to tie the lead, but it slid past on the left side. A tap-in birdie to get to one back. He trails Tony Finau and Webb Simpson by one.
Hole No. 7, par 4: BIRDIE (-1 on the day, -7 overall, two back)
Tap-in birdies are the best birdies. A perfect cut driver to the middle of the fairway, leaving 147 yards and a perfect look at a back pin. And then he hit it to one foot, one inch. Tap-in.
Two more players have joined Tony Finau at -9: Xander Schauffele and Webb Simpson. Simpson is -8 for his round.
Hole No. 6, par 3: BIRDIE (E on the day, -6 overall, three back)
That is exactly what the doctor ordered. Tiger hit another perfect iron shot—there is no one on the planet hitting their irons better—to 18 feet above the hole on 6. After leaving a couple putts short, he gave this one a little extra hit and curled it in the left side of the cup. He's now three back of Finau after birdieing 6 for the second straight day.
Hole No. 5, par 4: BOGEY (+1 on the day, –5 overall, four back)
For the third day in a row, Tiger's drive found the left fairway bunker on No. 5, the most difficult hole on the course. The hole was lengthened before this year's Masters and has given players fits—including Woods. Tiger was forced to layup short of the green due to to the lip. His third shot found the left side of the green, leaving him with about a 20-foot putt for par. The putt was on the right line, but wasn't hit hard enough, leading to his third straight bogey on No. 5 this week.
Hole No. 4, par 3: PAR (E on the day, -6 overall, three back)
A solid long iron into the par 3 left Tiger a makeable, uphill birdie effort from about 18 feet. A good roll but it didn't drop, and that's a par...BUT, Tony Finau just eagled the 8th hole to get to -9 for the tournament. He now leads by one over Xander Schauffele, Justin Harding and Adam Scott, all of whom sit at -8. Great scoring conditions at Augusta today—no wind—and the best in the world are taking advantage. Tiger has to get going soon.
Hole No. 3, par 4: PAR (E on the day, -6 overall, three back)
That's a disappointing start, though not a disastrous one. Woods went with driver off the shortest par 4 on the course and pushed it a bit, but it got a fortunate kick to get back into the fairway. But that left a poor angle for his pitch-shot second, and he did well to get it to about 15 feet below the hole. The uphill birdie effort was short and low the whole way, leading to a tap-in par.
Both 2 and 3 are birdie holes...so Tiger won't be pumped to have not taken advantage of them. Still, could be much worse.
Hole No. 2, par 5: PAR (E on the day, –6 overall, one back)
Tiger bombed his drive down the right side of the fairway, but found the giant fairway bunker off the tee. He faced a steep lip and couldn't go for the green, hitting a lofted club out of the bunker and leaving him with a lengthy third. His 140-yard approach shot stayed right of the pin. He faced a slick 32-foot downhill putt but managed to nudge it to the hole and tap in for another par. Not a great score, but no damage.
As for the rest of the tournament, there's now a SIX-WAY tie for first with Tony Finau joining Molinari, Day, Koeka, Scott and Oosthuizen.
Hole No. 1, par 4: PAR (E on the day, –6 overall, one back)
Tiger starts the day with a club twirl — and a ho-hum par. Tiger hit a 3-wood down the left side of the fairway and then found the middle of the green with his approach. He had a 34-foot birdie attempt slide just by, but tapped in for an opening four.
Pre-round: Tiger warming up
I won't bore you with any commentary of Tiger on the driving range, but he is indeed warming up, and will tee off No. 1 shortly. Instead, a brief history lesson. April 13 has been good to Tiger at Augusta in the past:
Also, for what it's worth, Tiger isn't chasing a "fifth green jacket" this year. He's chasing the "green jacket" for the fifth time. Apparently, they don't just give out multiple blazers at Augusta. Which is too bad, because if I were Tiger, I would totally wear all four at the champions dinner each year.