After Tiger Woods shot a flawless round of 62 in the second round of the Northwestern Mutual World Challenge, it looked like he was set to run away with the tournament he hosts for a sixth time in his career.
He’s been able to deal with the other 17 players in the field, but Mother Nature, on the other hand, was a bit more of a challenge.
Through driving wind, cold rain, and just a little bit of California sunshine, Woods struggled to find any real rhythm in the third round of the World Challenge on Saturday. With only three holes left to play, the world No. 1 was sitting at +2 for the day. He fought back to make two birdies on the closing holes to get to level par for the day, but missed an opportunity to extend a lead over first-round leader Zach Johnson.
Even though this isn’t an official tournament, there’s no question Woods wants to win as badly here as anywhere else. After the round, he didn’t sound like someone who really enjoyed what he had done on the course.
“I missed my share of putts,” Woods said, with 33 putts needed to complete the round, including one three-put from inside ten feet. “I didn’t putt well. […] I’m pleased with hanging on to the lead. I’m not pleased at how I putted. I left a few out there today.”
With conditions expected to be calm and cool once again on Sunday, you still have to think that Woods is the favorite to win. He’s given himself a decent cushion over Johnson, but could face his biggest challenge in holding off Bubba Watson, who has been the most consistent player so far this week.
If Woods gets his putter back in line, and that killer instinct kicks in, there won’t be anybody who can keep up. Win number six at his tournament is just 18 holes away.