Woods leads by 4 at Cadillac Championship
Miami, Florida – Tiger Woods matched the low round of the day for the third straight round Saturday and moved four clear of the field after three rounds of the WGC - Cadillac Championship.
Woods, who will go for his seventh title at this event on Sunday, carded a 5- under 67 to finish 54 holes at 18-under-par 198. Woods owns 16 World Golf Championship titles, but his last was in 2009 at the Bridgestone Invitational.
He has carded a personal-best 24 birdies through three rounds. His previous record was 22, which he did at the 2007 Tour Championship and at this event in 2005.
"It's important to be playing well. This golf course is tricky," Woods stated. "The downhill putts are unbelievable."
Graeme McDowell chipped in for eagle on the 16th to get back within four of Woods. The 2010 U.S. Open champion posted a 3-under 69 and is alone in second at minus-14 at the TPC Blue Monster at Doral.
Phil Mickelson and Steve Stricker played together in round three and posted matching 3-under 69s. They share third place at 13-under-par 203.
Sergio Garcia (67), Charl Schwartzel (69), Michael Thompson (67) and Keegan Bradley (69) are tied for fifth at minus-11, while Fredrik Jacobson (71) and Bubba Watson (71) are one back at 10-under-par 206.
World No. 1 Rory McIlroy rallied with five birdies in a 6-hole span on the back nine Saturday, but that was only good enough to give him a 1-under 71, which left him tied for 30th at 3-under-par 213.
Woods led McDowell by two at the start of the round, but that was cut to one at the first. Woods 2-putted for birdie from 11 feet, while McDowell poured in a 20-foot eagle effort.
At the second, Woods sank a 7-footer for birdie and made it three in a row with a 10-footer at No. 3. McDowell also birdied the third to remain two back.
Woods came up short at the fifth and that led to a bogey. McDowell then birdied the sixth from 20 feet out to grab a share of the lead. Woods took control over the next eight holes.
At the par-5 eighth, he dropped his third within three feet and kicked that in for birdie. Woods followed with a 6-foot birdie putt at the par-5 10th.
McDowell stumbled to a bogey, his first of the week, at 11 after finding sand with his approach. He knocked his second over the green at 14, then left a chip short in the rough. McDowell pitched his fourth by the hole and he 2- putted for double-bogey, which dropped him five back, where he was tied for second with three other players.
"I was definitely trying to play that too softly and too cutely, and I (decelerated) on it," McDowell said of his chip. "That was scruffy and clumsy and very frustrating."
Woods pushed his lead over his playing partner to six with a 9-foot birdie putt at the 15th.
McDowell cut his deficit to four with a chip-in eagle at the 16th. He parred the last two to end there.
"It was nice to get the train back on the rails coming in. The chip-in on 16 was nice," said McDowell. "That made up for 14 a little bit, but Tiger played phenomenal today."
Woods' tee shot got stuck in a tree at the 17th and that led to a bogey.
"I knew it was stuck in the tree when everyone pointed up there to the tree," Woods said.
Woods poured in a 16-footer at the last to get that stroke back and finish four clear of the field.
"I piped it at 18 and stuffed a soft, little 9-iron in there, and that was a nice putt to make," Woods said of the 18th. "I think it was nice to get something positive, especially the way 17 went."
NOTES: Woods has won three in a row and 19 of the last 20 times he had at least a piece of the 54-hole lead on the PGA Tour ... Woods has never lost a lead when ahead by at least three entering the final round ... Defending champion Justin Rose posted a 2-under 70 and is tied for 19th at 6-under 210.