Hero World Challenge: Five strokes clear, Charley Hoffman aims for a first
Wind deflated Tiger Woods’ comeback with three-over round, while Charley Hoffman opened up a five-stroke lead on Day 3 of the Hero World Challengeother sports Updated: Dec 03, 2017 17:44 IST
They opened with bogeys but Saturday couldn’t have been more different for Charley Hoffman and Tiger Woods. While the wind deflated Woods’ hopes with a round of three-over, overnight leader Hoffman handled the conditions better to open a five-stroke lead going into the final round.
At 14-under, after being two-under on a day only four among the 18 invited managed under-par scores, the $3.5 million Hero World Challenge seems like Hoffman’s to lose. Problem is: the debutant here doesn’t have a good record as a leader after 54 holes. Four times this 40-year-old from San Diego has been there on the PGA Tour and always, someone else won.
“I’m going to have to handle my nerves a little better than I did today,” said Hoffman, who has had six top-10 finishes and made the President’s Cup team in 2017.
Closest to Hoffman, at nine-under, are Olympic gold medallist Justin Rose and Open Championship winner Jordan Spieth.
Hoffman, who donated tournament earnings of almost $100,000 to victims of the Las Vegas shooting in October, again birdied his way out of trouble. There were birdies in the second and third holes and, after he took a penalty drop in the 10th where he had a double-bogey, Hoffman fired three more in the last five holes.
Front nine woes
For Woods, tied fifth overnight, everything that had to go wrong on the front nine he sizzled on Friday did.
As many struggled with the blustery conditions --- Tommy Fleetwood, joint-second after the second round, slipped to tied fifth after a round of two-over and Henrik Stenson carded 77 – Woods began with a drive that missed the fairways. He dropped five shots by the 10th hole having also had bogeys in the 3rd, 6th and 7th.
“Yeah, it was a rough start. Whatever I did right ended up in a bad spot and whatever I did wrong was really wrong. I just couldn’t get it turned around,” said Woods, whose son Charlie and daughter Sam have come over for the weekend.
Just when it seemed the course and the conditions could lead to an implosion, Woods staged a mini-recovery with two birdies in the 14th and 17th and six par rounds.
“That’s golf, we’re always going to face adversity…. I am not the only guy who struggled. (But) I liked to be able to fight out there. I had missed the fights,” said Woods, who felt it was “ridiculous” that no birdie had happened till the 14th. When it arrived, Woods bowed to the crowd and showed one finger.
Three days into his comeback, Woods said he was happy. “There were a lot of questions that I had…. and I feel like I have come out on a good side this week,” he said.
On Sunday, Hoffman will seek to end a good year. Woods will try to begin one.