by Jeff Skinner
It looks like the European Tour and the folks at The Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship made a smart investment when they decided to pay Tiger Woods a few million dollars to play in the desert. Woods has given them a grand return on their investment as he shares the lead going into the final round.
Woods started with a birdie at the first but could only manage one other at the seventh to finish the front nine in 34 strokes. He warmed up on the back nine with four birdies and went out in 32 to have his best round of the tournament.
This third round was reminiscent of his first where he drove the ball well and found the greens. Today he hit 10 of 14 fairways and 16 greens in regulation but his putting still isn’t up to his high standards. He needed 30 putts today and considering that Rock only used 25 it is a case of what might have been if Tiger could figure out the greens.
Tiger and Rock have a two stroke cushion over a quartet of players: Peter Hanson, Francesco Molinari, Paul Lawrie and Rory McIlroy.
It will be an interesting final day as Woods tries to put an exclamation point on the first week of his new season. Woods is actually looking for his second consecutive victory as he won his Chevron World Challenge at the end of 2011. But this isn’t a limited field of 18 golfers. This event has a full field of world class golfers with four of the top ten players in the world. Woods not only would vault back near the top ten in the rankings but a win here would be an extremely bold statement that he is certainly back on top of his game.