Tiger Woods outright leader, Rory McIlroy close

Doug Mendoza
September 23, 2018

Tiger Woods is on the brink of completing one of sport's most sensational comebacks by winning the Tour Championship at East Lake today. Woods was sensational on the front nine, carding six birdies in his first seven holes to open up a sizable lead on the field.

"I turn up in LA [at the Genesis Open in February], and guys have already played 10 events. We'll see what happens".

He had started this week's tournament stronger than the others, shooting a 65 on Thursday-highlighted by an eagle on 18-and following it with Friday's 68, a round that included a costly double-bogey on 16 and put Woods square with Rose at seven under through 36.

Woods was in the middle of a sparkling third-round at The Tour Championship when his odds at the Westgate SuperBook in Las Vegas shortened to 9-1, making him the favorite to win the Green Jacket in April. "It's not the first time", Rose said of Woods. He needs to capture the Tour Championship and have Rose drop to a fifth-place tie or worse to have a chance at his third FedEx Cup title.

"I've felt very comfortable when I got into the mix there at Tampa even though it was very early in my start to this year".

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He eventually cooled off for a five-under 65 and a three-shot lead over McIlroy, who fired a four-under 66, and Justin Rose, who carded a 68, at the East Lake Golf Course. 'It's the ideal place for me to open my campaign, ' he said in January, 'but the landscape has shifted dramatically. I've been playing well throughout the entire summer, just piecing it together, building, building and building.

"It's obviously exciting for the tournament, it's exciting for golf in general that he's up there but for me, all I can do is concentrate on myself".

Woods says he's looking forward to the challenge of holding off McIlroy and Rose. But for me, all I can do is concentrate on myself. "Go out there and take care of my business and hopefully that's good enough". It's simple math, really, and Woods' body of work to this point, although wildly impressive considering how far he's come in 12 months both physically and competitively, paints a clear picture. He has given himself the cushion he has craved, the advantage from which he was seemingly so unbeatable during his prime. The last of his three PGA Tour victories was in 2011. He won that weekend five years ago in Akron, just as he has won all 23 times he held a lead of three-plus strokes at a tournament's three-quarter mark, all of those wins coming in a time when the sight of Woods in his Sunday red was practically synonymous with him either closing out or chasing down a victory.

"I don't have to shoot 63 or 64 and hope I get help".

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