As Saturday’s third round began, Woods and Mark Wilson topped the leaderboard with a pack that included Padraig Harrington nipping at their heels in this third FedEx Cup event. When Woods bogeyed the first hole on Saturday, memories of his recent travails at Hazeltine and Liberty National came into focus. But then Tiger shifted into his own gear.
Woods carded three birdies and an eagle to go out in 31 for the front nine. He came in with five birdies for 31 on the back side and 62 for the day. Just like that, he had a seven-stroke lead going into Sunday.
Harrington didn’t do much to help his own cause. After playing the first 36 holes with only one bogey (that at 18 on Friday), he shifted into reverse on Saturday. He started superbly, with birdies at the second, third and fourth holes, but then gave a stroke back at both the sixth and seventh. He mixed a couple more bogeys on the back nine with three birdies and was in for the day with 69, which left him eight strokes behind Woods.
Sunday wasn’t any better. After an opening birdie, Harrington bogeyed the second and third holes. He got one of those strokes back at the ninth, but came up with a bogey at 12 and a double at 13, with only an offsetting birdie at 15 thereafter. He finished with a share of sixth place at 278 (68-68-69-73), which was 13 strokes behind Woods’ winning 265.
Harrington admitted that at this point of the season, he needs to be in contention early if he’s to hit on all cylinders over the course of 72 holes.
“I think having been in contention the last couple weeks, this week I’m glad I’m in contention again, because I do need the adrenaline to keep going,” Harrington said after Friday’s second round. “There’s no doubt about it. If I was slightly off the lead this week, I could go downhill very quickly.”
Next up for this circuit is the Tour Championship at East Lake in Atlanta from Sept. 24 through 27. That will also serve as the final installment in the FedEx Cup.