“[That’s] the last time Tiger was here”. He played in a Monday qualifier, but failed to qualify.
Conners shot a 3-under 68 in Saturday’s third round and is 9-under for the tournament, with a one-shot lead over Woods, Justin Rose and Brandt Snedeker, all of whom are 8-under.
It was his first opening round under par on the PGA Tour since a 64 in the Wyndham Championship in August 2015.
The revival truly started at PGA National, more of a slow burn, the biggest difference this week being his lack of the big number.
And yet, he’s not fading.
With AP Photos.Canadian rookie Corey Conners kept the lead in the Valspar Championship and had a clear view of what he faces in the final round. Conners is third in the field this week in strokes gained tee to green and 11th in putting. “We as a group got fooled a lot today”. He had a Sunday crowd – in 50-degree weather and gusting winds – following his every move around the Copperhead course at Innisbrook.
The usual quiet of the morning is punctuated with variations on the Tiger moniker. But it also might not. Prior to the Web.com Tour, he was banging it around on the PGA Tour Latinoamerica and the Mackenzie Tour.
Rose said his eagle “ignited things” for him.
Whatever the outcome, Woods has left no doubt in his past two events that he is destined for further glory, as long as his body holds up and excitement for next month’s Masters is going into overdrive.
Woods is embracing the challenge of taking on one of the more hard courses on the PGA Tour having performed well on another tough layout at PGA National in his last start.
With such a narrow margin, Conners is not the favorite and not even close to it, either. Will Rose, Snedeker or somebody else steal the spotlight?
Woods stayed at five under with another clutch par putt from outside 10 feet at the seventh, but he failed to avoid dropping a shot at his final hole after a wayward approach ended up in a spectator’s bag. Woods hasn’t made double bogey through 54 holes at the Valspar but had three at the Honda, derailing momentum and his chances of winning the tournament.
Come Sunday, Conners will be paired with a major-championship victor Rose for the final round and will play in front of Woods again. “I pitched it up the hill and came out nicely”. “Should work out well”.
“I was playing well all day”. I’ve won my share of events here and overseas, so I like to be one back or near the lead.
“We had fun again, Sneds and I”. “But to play myself into contention this early into my comeback was nice and on top of that to build on what I did a week ago, I feel comfortable out there”.
“I’m starting to get a better feel for it”. “I think tomorrow will be another fun day”.
“It didn’t feel very good”, said Woods, who let go of the club as it started to wrap about the tree trunk.
“I’m excited”, Woods said. I keep getting a little bit better here and there, making these little subtle tweaks.
Woods saw his long-time rival Phil Mickelson end his own winless drought at last week’s WGC-Mexico Championship but insists that has no bearing on his thinking as he goes into this weekend with a legitimate shot at victory.