Tiger’s back! Maybe not all the way back, but Tiger Woods is in contention at a major for the first time in half a decade, and that’s not a sentence we ever fthought we’d type a year ago. Woods begins the final day at the British Open at -5, four strokes behind co-leaders Jordan Spieth and Xander Schauffele. Woods, as you remember from the olden days, has never come from behind to win a major … but these are different times now. Follow along as we track Tiger’s round as it unfolds. (All times Eastern)
Hole 1 (“Cup”), 396 yards, Par 4, 9:25 a.m.
With wind gusting up to 25 m.p.h. in their faces, no driving No. 1 today, as Spieth did Saturday. Tiger stuck his long-iron approach to within 15 feet, creating exactly the kind of birdie opportunity he needs to put some early pressure on the guys ahead of him. His birdie putt was right on line, but alas it petered out just short of the hole. Par. Still 5-under.
Hole 2 (“Gulley”), 461 yards, Par 4, 9:39 a.m.
There’s a reason Tiger is in contention. He’s been solid off the tee all week. Tiger has ranked at or near the top in driving accuracy all three rounds. No. 2 was no different. Solid drive leads to easier approach, which leads to another birdie opportunity. His lengthy birdie putt slipped by, leading to another par. He’ll need to convert these if he’s going to make a run. Par. Still 5-under.
Hole 3 (“Jockie’s Burn”), 350 yards, Par 4, 9:54 a.m.
With wind whipping upwards of 20 m.p.h., it’s putting a premium on control. Birdies appear to be fewer and farther between, meaning par is a good score. Tiger once again found the green in two, some 40 feet from the hole. A solid lag led to another 4. Par. Still 5-under. Still 4 back.
Hole 4 (“Hillocks”), 415 yards, Par 4, 10:08 a.m.
From tee to green, Tiger has been rock solid. He’s been straight off the tee and given himself four straight birdie opportunities. Facing a birdie putt of about 18 feet, Tiger drained it for his first fist pump of the day Only two players ahead of him on the leaderboard — Spieth and Schauffele. Birdie. 6-under. 3 back.
Hole 5 (“Brae”), 412 yards, Par 4, 10:24 a.m.
First misstep of the day from Tiger. With a simple pitching wedge to the green, Tiger’s approach didn’t clear the ridge just in front of the pin. Another foot and he would have been looking at a short birdie opportunity. Instead, his ball rolled back down a hill, leaving him a difficult 40-footer. He made par, but definitely left one on the table here. Par. 6-under. Still 3 back.
Hole 6 (“Hogan’s Alley”), 580 yards, Par 5, 10:35 a.m.
Tiger’s first “mistake” off the tee. His drive drifted right, narrowly missing the fairway bunker, but he was fine. Playing partner Francesco Molinari striped his drive right down the middle and … found the bunker. That’s golf. A wood to the front of the green and, facing a 94-foot eagle putt, Tiger’s lag narrowly slipped by the hole by 6 feet. Boom. Birdie. And this one will tighten the screws on Spieth and Schauffele, who are both in trouble behind him at No. 5. Birdie. 7-under. 2 back … for now.
Hole 7 (“Plantation”), 410 yards, Par 4, 10:55 a.m.
Both Spieth and Schauffele bogeyed No. 5, meaning Tiger is just one back. The question is, do they know Big Cat is coming? Well, they both sprayed their drives on 6 into the galleries. Meanwhile, Tiger just keeps plodding along: another fairway, another green in regulation, leaving about 25 to 30 feet for birdie. His putt came up just short. Par. 7-under. 1 back.
Hole 8 (“Short”), 195 yards, Par 3, 11:06 a.m.
As Tiger steps to the tee, behind him Spieth is in all sorts of trouble. His second shot at 7 found a gorse bush. After taking a drop, he’s staring bogey or worse straight in the face. Meanwhile, Tiger’s tee shot found the greenside bunker on the right — his first bit of adversity on the day. But he converted a relatively simple up and down. Par. 7-under. 1 back, but not for long.
Hole 9 (“Railway”), 474 yards, Par 4, 11:15 a.m.
Clock it — at 11:19 ET, Tiger Woods is tied for the lead in the final round of the British Open. Spieth carded a double bogey at 6, including his first three putt in over 220 holes. Schauffele bogeyed, meaning he and Tiger are atop the leaderboard at 7-under. Up ahead, Tiger missed his first green in regulation, finding another bunker. Another solid sand shot, leaving him six feet for par. Slid it in the side door. Par. 7-under. Tied for the lead (but not for long, with Schauffele in trouble at 7).
Hole 10 (“Railway”), 465 yards, Par 4, 11:31 a.m.
First errant drive of the day for Tiger, who found a bunker on the left side. Schauffele, meanwhile, doubled 7, putting Tiger in the lead all by himself. Tiger gets a nice lie in the bunker and skies one to the front of the green for what is absolutely his best shot of the day.
This tweet from Graeme McDowell summed the shot up perfectly:
Tiger back doing Tiger stuff…….
— Graeme McDowell (@Graeme_McDowell) July 22, 2018
The birdie putt just missed. Par. 7-under. Leader by 1.
Hole 11 (“John Philp”), 382 yards, Par 4, 11:44 a.m.
Don’t count out Tiger’s playing partner, Francesco Molinari, who’s carded 10 straight pars and headed to 11 just one back of Tiger, who sprayed his tee shot right into the tall grass. “Oh my god,” Tiger yelled as he yanked it well right. He caught a lucky break, as the ball bounced off the gallery back toward the green. Still, an impossible up-and-down for par. (Side note: Tiger walked over and shook the hand of the guy he hit, then gave him a glove.) Tiger went for a miracle flop shot save, left it short and it trickled off the green. Molinari parred, Tiger ran his par putt from off the green 10 feet by the hole. Missed the comebacker. Double bogey. 5-under. Trailing four players — Spieth, Kevin Kisner, Molinari and Kevin Chappell — by 1.
Hole 12 (“Southward Ho”), 503 yards, Par 4, 12:02 p.m.
All that solid work through 10 holes and now Tiger is back to even par for the day. How will he respond to disaster at 11? Well, he pounded his iron off the tee at 12 into the grass on the left. After hitting fairway after fairway through the front nine, he’s starting to lose a bit of control on the back. “I did it again!,” he yelled, after spraying his second to the right-side rough. He was able to find the green on this third, leaving a lengthy par putt, that he left short. Bogey. 4-under. Trailing by 2.
Hole 13 (“Southward Ho”), 175 yards, Par 3, 12:15 p.m.
As Tiger walked to 13, ahead of him at 14 a guy named McIlroy was draining an impossibly long putt — around 55 feet — for eagle to grab a share of the lead.
Thirteen is no picnic — playing as one of the toughest on the course. A third straight bogey would seemingly end Tiger’s chances, but he responded with a solid shot off the tee, making for an easy par from there. Par. 4-under. Trailing by 2.
Hole 14 (“Spectacles”), 513 yards, Par 5, 12:26 p.m.
This is an absolute must birdie or better for Tiger if he has any shot. And … he yanked his drive way left. All the control off the tee he showed on the front nine is gone now. He found a lucky lie, then flew his second over the green — well, technically not over the green, just over the the 14th-hole portion of a green it shares with No. 4. Instead of putting, Tiger whipped out his wedge from about 60 yards and left it well short. But, just when you’re about to put a fork in him, Tiger pulls off some magic, draining the lengthy 30-foot putt. Birdie. 5-under. Still trailing by 2 after Molinari birdies, too.
Tourney update, because it’s necessary: Molinari leads by one, followed by five players at 6-under, including Justin Rose, who needed a birdie on 18 just to make the cut on Friday. For now, Rose is your clubhouse leader. The others at 6-under: Spieth, McIlroy, Schauffele, Chappell.
Hole 15 (“Lucky Slap”), 472 yards, Par 4, 12:40 p.m.
Watching Molinari par his way (with a lone birdie) to the lead, Tiger has a front-row seat to what it will take to win this thing. Molinari parred, while Tiger sat over a birdie putt from off the side of the green. A near impossible make, especially with a sprinkler in his line. He left it juuuuuuust right of the hole. Par. 5-under. Two back.
Hole 16 (“Barry Burn”), 248 yards, Par 3, 12:56 p.m.
With Molinari off the right side of the green, facing a lengthy up and down for par, Tiger ripped a 5 iron to the middle of the green. From about 50-60 feet, Tiger’s birdie attempt fell just to the right. Par. 5-under. Two back of Molinari and Schauffele, who birdied 14.
Hole 17 (“Island”), 460 yards, Par 4, 1:06 p.m.
With two golfers already in at 6-under — Justin Rose and Rory McIlroy — it’s a must birdie for one of the final two holes for Tiger. After leaving his second just short of the green, Tiger nearly holed his chip that would have been massive. Instead, he settled for par, as did Molinari. Par. 5-under. Two back.
Hole 18 (“Home”), 499 yards, Par 4, 1:22 p.m.
Tiger was none too happy when a fan yelled during his backswing. No harm done, however, as his ball settled nicely just off the fairway. Molinari, meanwhile, is leaving no room for anyone, striping his drive right down the right side of the fairway. Tiger stuck his approach, giving him a fantastic birdie opportunity. But it hardly mattered, as Molinari, solid all day long, put his approach inside Tiger’s. Tiger missed his birdie, close but no dice. Par. 5-under. Tie for sixth place.
Molinari drained his birdie, ending an absolutely solid performance from tee to green, 1 to 18. Eight under for Molinari, one shot clear of Schauffele, the only player on the course with a chance to catch him.
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