Albany (Bahamas), Dec 3 (IANS): After two close calls in the last two years, Scottie Scheffler made the right moves to take the Tiger Trophy as he pulled away from the field in the third round of the Hero World Challenge. It was a brilliant 7-under 65 round that had two eagles and four birdies but ended with a bogey.
Yet, Scheffler is now 16-under and three clear of Matt Fitzpatrick, whose last eight holes had just one par alongside an eagle, four birdies, a bogey and a double bogey.
Justin Thomas (68) was lying third as overnight co-leader Jordan Spieth just could not get the putter going, was tied fourth with first-round co-leader Tony Finau (68), Jason Day (66) and Colling Morikawa (68) and the four were 10-under.
Tiger Woods said he was excited at the progress he had made in the last three days and with his third 71 he was even par 216 and tied 16th with the two-time defending champion Viktor Hovland went under par for the first time this week with 70.
Even as Scheffler was sprinting ahead, Woods overcame a bogey-bogey start for a 1-under 71. He declared, “I still have the game. It’s whether or not the body can do it. I’m very pleasantly surprised at how I’ve recovered every day. My activations in the gym have been good.”
After a par-par start on the first, he was birdie-birdie on the second and it became bogey-bogey on the third.
Yet he rallied superbly with four birdies in the next seven holes, but the back nine was again problematic. He had two bogeys and one birdie.
He birdied all three Par-5s on the front nine but dropped a bogey on in the back nine and parred the 15th, where he missed a three-foot par putt. Still a par after a double bogey and a bogey on the first two days, was an improvement, like all else.
He went on, “I'm very excited at how I have felt physically. Knocking off some rust. I mean, we can always knock off rust at home, but it's so different come game time. To be able to knock off some of the rust as I have this week and showed myself that I can recover each and every day was kind of an unknown as far as I've walked this far. I'm very excited about how the week's turned out.”
“As far as my feels, generally as the week progresses my feel for pin high gets better and better each and every day. I think that's an indication this week, I know the score doesn't indicate what I think I could have shot today, but it was definitely clearer than it was yesterday.”
Woods said he has not experienced soreness in his ankle and that the soreness in other areas of his body has recovered well after each round.
It re-kindled the belief that he could play as often as once a month in 2024.
After a bogey-bogey start, he repaired the damage with birdies at the third, sixth, eighth and ninth -- where he got up and down from a greenside bunker.
Scheffler, amazingly consistent with 17 Top-10s in 23 starts coming into this week, has been striking the ball best. He has been great both off the tee and into the greens and now his putting, too, Is perking up.
Though the Hero World Challenge is not an official event, he is set to add to the wins at Phoenix and the PLAYERS.
He said, “I feel as if I’m much more clear in what I need to be working on and a lot of that has to do with how I’m set up over the ball. When I’m set up in the right position, then I feel like my mechanics are really good. That’s what I’m focused on.”
"I played really well today, really solid the whole day," said Scheffler. "(It's) nice to see some putts go in. These greens can be tough to putt at times, but I'm rolling it good."
Scheffler zipped ahead with an eagle on the third and four birdies on the sixth, seventh, ninth and 12th and added a 14-foot eagle at 15 to push his lead to four strokes over the field. Right at the end he dropped a shot on 18th after a drive into right rough.
Spieth had four birdies but only one of them came on a Par-5 and he also dropped a shot on Par-5 third, where playing partner Scheffler’s eagle meant a three-shot swing after the duo started the day together at 9-under.
Spieth just slipped down with a 71 and is now six adrift of Scheffler.
England's Matt Fitzpatrick signed for a 65 with topsy-turvy last eight holes. He had climbed up the leaderboard with four birdies on the front nine. After a double-bogey at the 11th, he birdied 12 and 14 before draining a 47-foot eagle putt at 15. He bogeyed 16 but closed with back-to-back birdies for a 13-under par total of 203.