Tiger Woods evoked memories of his glory days with a blistering run of six birdies in eight holes as he charged into contention for the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am on Saturday.
Six strokes off the pace overnight, the former world number one fired a five-under-par 67 to end a day of intermittent rain, sunshine and tugging sea breezes four behind pacesetting South Korean Charlie Wi in third place.
On the picturesque Pebble Beach Golf Links where he won the 2000 U.S. Open by a record 15 shots, Woods mixed six birdies with a lone bogey to post an 11-under total of 203.
His only disappointment was not to take greater advantage of the easier outward nine, his back nine on Saturday, in his pursuit of a first victory in a full-field event since the 2009 Australian Masters.
"I didn't hit it as well as I did the last two days but I made some more putts and really managed my game well," Woods told reporters after totaling only 25 putts in the third round.
"Even though my game was slightly off today, it's not as off as it used to be," added the American, who has battled form over the past two years while working on a swing change and being plagued with injury problems and the breakdown of his marriage.
"I don't hit the ball as far off line as I used to and my ball doesn't curve as much, so consequently my off-days are not as far off."
Woods. who two months ago won the limited-field Chevron World Challenge which he hosts in California, was especially pleased with his outward nine
"If you make a few putts like I did today, you can get it rolling," the 36-year-old said. "I had a nice little stretch there where I probably could have birdied six holes in a row."
Woods made an unpromising start to the third round after teeing off at the 10th in overcast conditions, paring his first two holes before bogeying the short 12th after missing the green to the left off the tee.
He then jumped into overdrive. He birdied the 13th, after hitting an exquisite shot from the left fairway bunker to just two feet, and also the 14th, where he sank an 11-footer.
Woods rolled in 22-foot birdie putts at the 15th and 17th before laying up in two at the par-five 18th and knocking in an eight-footer to reach the turn in four-under 32.
That put him at 10 under overall in a four-way tie for second place with the easier nine to come.
Woods picked up another shot at the par-five second, where he was just short of the green in two, but failed to make up any further ground as he closed with seven consecutive pars.
"That's why we play, is to be there, and that's why I train as hard as I do and practise as hard as I do is to put myself in those positions," said Woods. "A win is a win.
"I've won my share of events, and it feels good. That's the ultimate goal and that's what we set out to do at the beginning of every event is to win it. That's the goal tomorrow, as well."
(Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles; Editing by Gene Cherry)