By Andrew Both
CHIBA, Japan (Reuters) – Tiger Woods left the field building a commanding three-stroke lead over Hideki Matsuyama after the third round at the Zozo Championship on Sunday.
Woods teed off with a two-shot advantage and after teasing his chasers with an opening three-putt bogey, he surged clear with six birdies, before stumbling with a late bogey after chunking his third shot at the par-five 14th.
He shot four-under-par 66, though a three-put par at the par-five 18th left him clearly frustrated.
In his first event since undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery two months ago, Woods posted a 16-under 194 total with one round left at Narashino Country Club.
Local favourite Matsuyama, making a rare appearance in his homeland, birdied the final hole to grab second spot on 13-under, while American Gary Woodland (68) was third on 12-under.
Playing in front of a sellout crowd after Saturday’s second round was completed behind closed doors sans spectators due to some muddy conditions that were deemed unsafe, leader Woods put on a clinic for most of the round.
A win by Woods would be his 82nd on the PGA Tour, matching Sam Snead’s record.
And it would leave the 43-year-old highly likely to pass Snead sooner rather than later. Snead was 52 when he recorded his final victory.
The final round resumed almost immediately on what was going to be a marathon day for the field after the 6.30 a.m. local time start.
The marathon was a result of Friday’s washout. Some players should complete 72 holes by time darkness falls at 5 p.m. (0800 GMT), but the leaders seem destined to return on Monday morning.
That should be but a minor imposition for Woods, what with his private jet and all.
(Editing by Amlan Chakraborty)