Tiger Woods cards 71 in third round of Hero World Challenge

AFP

Tiger Woods stumbled out of the gate before finding his footing with four of his five birdies on the front nine to finish 1-under-par 71 after the third round of the Hero World Challenge on Saturday.

He's tied for 16th in the 20-man field at even par.

Woods said the "touch and feels" of his short game are the most difficult to get back so far.

"But when you're chipping off Bermuda like this, and this is probably one of the hardest golf courses we face all year round to try and hit chips, ball sits down, you've got to hit the ball up," Woods said. "As far as my feels, generally as the week progresses my feel for pin high gets better and better each and every day. I think that's an indication this week, I know the score doesn't indicate what I think I could have shot today, but it was definitely clearer than it was yesterday."

Woods said his foot wasn't bothering him but "other parts are," without elaborating.

After opening with a 75 and a 70 on the Albany course in the Bahamas, Woods bogeyed the first two holes on Saturday before turning his fortunes around on the third hole. He birdied that hole as well as Nos. 6, 8 and 9.

Woods answered a bogey on No. 11 with a birdie on No. 14. He bogeyed the par-4 No. 18 to drop to even par for the tournament.

The 15-time major champion is the tournament host and a five-time winner of the event, most recently in 2011.

World No. 1 Scottie Scheffler, the second-round leader, shot 65 on Saturday and owns a three-stroke advantage at 16 under heading into Sunday's final round. Matt Fitzpatrick of Great Britain also shot 65 to jump into solo second at 13 under. Justin Thomas (68) is third, five strokes off the lead.

Woods is playing in his first tournament since withdrawing from the Masters in April. He's using this week as a "beta test" to see what he needs to do to be able to compete over 72 holes across four days.

"I'm very excited at how I have felt physically," Woods said. "Knocking off some rust. I mean, we can always knock off rust at home, but it's so different come game time. Game time speed is different than at-home speed. To be able to knock off some of the rust as I have this week and showed myself that I can recover each and every day, that was kind of an unknown as far as I've walked this far. I've done all my training, but add in playing and concentration and adrenaline and all those other factors that speed up everything, I'm very excited how the week's turned out."

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