Tiger Woods with 3-shot lead and 1 round away from winning

Lynette Rowe
September 23, 2018

It was a poor iron shot off the 72nd tee at the Valspar Championship and an even worse drive a week later at Bay Hill's 16th hole.

But even with the wattage lighting the top of the leaderboard, it is not a question of who will win this tournament but rather, more simply, whether or not it will be Woods.

Tiger Woods edged closer to snapping a more than five-year winless drought as he is the co-leader with Justin Rose after the first two rounds of the Tour Championship in Atlanta. "There's just something extra about winning a season-long thing".

He has never lost an official tournament when leading by more than two shots and has won 54 of the 57 PGA Tour events in which he has held the 54-hole lead. He's never failed to deliver, 32 times going on to victory when holding this wide of a margin.

Woods isn't taking anything for granted as he goes for his 80th Tour victory on the weekend. Imagine getting to this position 57 times. He would eventually go out in 30 and lead by four shots heading into the back nine.

The last was perhaps his most crushing loss.

"There's some guys that can't say they've accomplished that, have got into the Tour Championship, but to have come back from where I've come back from and to get here has been a pretty tall order and something I'm proud of".

That is likely a reminder to Woods that nothing is certain, especially now.

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The Tour Championship has always been thought to be Woods's best shot to claim his first win in half a decade.

How does he handle it?

At one stage he led by five from Rose but he dropped another shot after failing to chip up a slope to the 16th green. Truth is, he hasn't had much of anything since "13 when his dominance was sidetracked by an ailing back".

Woods sure looked it Saturday, when it might have been easy to get caught up in all the hysteria.

He holed another lengthy putt on the fourth while his birdies on the sixth and seventh came after impressive shots out of bunkers. Tiger will play alongside McIlroy in the final group on Sunday - but history suggests that McIlroy and Rose have no chance to win.

"It's a little more unknown now", Rose said, when asked if it felt different to chase Woods on Sunday these days than in years past.

He cooled off on the back nine en route to a 12-under 198 total, while Englishman Rose recovered from a bogey, bogey start to card a 68.

Woods, a 14-times major champion, has not won this year in an otherwise impressive comeback following spinal fusion surgery in 2017. "All I can do is worry about myself", said McIlroy. However five years is a long time and who knows what will happen if Rory gets into one of his irresistible grooves, or Rose putts a lot better than he did on Saturday.

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