After mounting a massive comeback during Round 3, Tiger Woods pushed himself up the leaderboard to T-9 at -8 heading into Sunday. Woods will tee off with Jordan Spieth at 2:05 p.m. Eastern tomorrow for the final round of THE PLAYERS Championship, just in time for NBC’s Sunday coverage which begins at 2 p.m.
Despite shooting a personal record of 65 at TPC Sawgrass on Saturday, Woods still needs a lot of help to get back into contention. Woods is 11 strokes back from leader Webb Simpson, who shot in the 60’s during the first three days. Simpson shot a 66 in Round 1, a scorching 63 in Round 2 and a 68 on Saturday to put him at -19 for the tournament. Despite his stellar Round 3, Woods felt he left some strokes on the course.
“I mean to be 8-under there through 12, realistically I probably could have got a couple more out of it and got to 10 for the day,” Woods told Golf.com. “…These guys are going to tear this place apart. I wouldn’t be surprised if somebody went lower than what I did today.”
It is not often Jordan Spieth is overshadowed, but that’s what happened on Saturday. Like Woods, Spieth also recovered by shooting a 65 after a slow start to the tournament, and sits with Woods at T-9. Spieth will join Woods in what may be the most anticipated grouping on Sunday, despite both players needing a lot of good fortune to catch Simpson. After Round 3, Spieth noted fans should not count him out just yet.
“Sure, yeah [I can win],” Spieth told Golf Week. “Absolutely…I’m going to go out with the utmost confidence tomorrow to try and get off to a good start and make some noise. At this point it’s fun, I have nothing to lose. I was 14 back starting today and anything inside a top 10 is an incredible feat over the weekend from that far back. And I’ve got a chance to potentially make more noise than that.”
It is fitting Woods will close out THE PLAYERS in the most anticipated group as he started the tournament with Phil Mickelson and Rickie Fowler. Overall, the group disappointed during the first two days as both Mickelson and Fowler failed to make the cut.
Simpson will be joined by Danny Lee for the final tee time of the day at 2:45 p.m. Eastern. Simpson does have a seven stroke lead on Lee, but anything can happen at Sawgrass. The course has a number of traps that can turn things ugly after a few bad holes. Simpson has been able to avoid these snares so far this week, and will look to do the same on Sunday. Fans remember Fowler’s epic comeback in the 2015 PLAYERS to end up winning the trophy.
Heading into THE PLAYERS, Woods is 92nd in the world rankings. Woods had been 28th after Augusta, but a poor outing last weekend sent him back down the rankings. Woods should see his status rise once again as long as he can finish THE PLAYERS with a solid Sunday.