PACIFIC PALISADES, Calif. — Tiger Woods was finishing up the par-3 16th at Riviera Country Club when playing partner Peter Malnati jogged ahead to the 17th to get his tee shot off on the par 5. Doing so meant the group could finish that hole if they wanted to even after the horn sounded for darkness in the third round of the Genesis Open.
“The way I was feeling, the way I was playing, I wanted to play as many holes as possible,” Woods said.
Beginning on the back nine, Woods got off to a torrid start with a birdie-eagle-birdie-birdie run to skyrocket up the leader board after barely making the cut a few hours earlier.
Woods’ hot putter eventually cooled, with pars on each of his next three holes. But it was an impressive turnaround from his first two rounds, when he ranked outside the top 100 in strokes gained/putting.
“I didn't have four three-putts out there,” he said, alluding to his opening round. “That was positive, and I got off to a nice little roll.
“Conditions were a little bit tough in the beginning, which was good for me because the guys weren't really doing much around the golf course, so that was positive.”
The downside for Woods, however, is that he’s still seven strokes back of leader Justin Thomas, who got in just two holes before play was called for darkness.
“I’ve got some work to do,” Woods said.
So does everyone.
It will be a quick turnaround for all 76 players who made the cut with a 6:45 a.m. restart. For Thomas, that means a 4:15 a.m. wake-up call. Woods? He said he’ll get up at 2 or 3 a.m. to “start the process.”
Once he’s back on the course, he’ll be faced with a short up-and-down to try to save par on the 17th, where, with darkness quickly encroaching on Saturday, he badly tugged his second shot, a 3-wood from 272 yards, and watched as ball hit a tree and dropped straight down. Rather than mark, he kept going and left a baby wedge from 78 yards woefully short, leaving himself 35 feet.
Sunday’s forecast won’t make things any easier, with temperatures expected to be in the mid 40s, along with wind and possibly more rain later in the morning.
“It's going to be a long one,” Woods said. “Last couple days, it’s definitely testing the body.”