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Tiger Woods Within A Stroke Of Lead At Valspar Championship

Tiger Woods Within A Stroke Of Lead At Valspar Championship

Right on his heels was Woods, who kept a clean card until his final hole and shot 68.

History suggests Tiger Woods has a 90 per cent chance of winning the Valspar Championship after the 14-time major champion ended round three one shot off the lead.

Woods also got his name high on the leaderboard when he first returned from his fourth back surgery in the Bahamas, an unofficial event with an 18-man field before as sparse of a gallery as will ever see him play. So Woods reached into Cousins' bag and continued playing.

Finally, the man everyone came to see, Tiger Woods disappeared into the crowd.

Woods was almost as good with his next tee shot, a 5-iron to two feet on the par-3 17th. That threesome collectively has 95 PGA Tour wins. To be fair, he's only played six opening rounds since.

PALM HARBOR, FL - MARCH 09: Tiger Woods and Jordan Spieth walks up to the eighth green during the second round of the Valspar Championship at Innisbrook Resort Copperhead Course on March 9, 2018 in Palm Harbor, Florida. Woods' second shot landed in a spectator's see-through bag. Sunday could go badly, of course.

I wrote in a column back in November of my hope that Derrick Rose would find a way to return to the basketball court, and we'll see what his recent signing with the Minnesota Timberwolves will bring, but along with Woods, I hope it works out for both.

"Golf needs you, baby!" one fan screamed. "Please come back next year", shouted another.

Outside the ropes, it appeared that half of Tampa had gathered to cheer Woods on, and heaven knows what it will be like this weekend.

Tiger Woods reacts after a birdie on the ninth hole
Tiger Woods reacts after a birdie on the ninth hole

"Once they got cleared out I figured I could put some speed into this thing and I was going to feel it". He drained a downhill, 13-footer for another bird on the par-3 eighth.

He finished with a two-putt par from 20 feet and one nervous moment. "It's a reward", he said.

The 26-year-old, who was an alternate for the tournament at the start of the week, began the round with a two-shot lead and birdied three of his first four holes to move to nine under par.

"So, there's a lot of guys up there, so, you know, myself included". That's how hard it is. "That's basically how I'm going to go about it".

It was his fourth event of the year.

And here he is, one shot out of the lead, and knowing that his work is not done.

His health is a far cry from this time previous year, when he says he could barely climb out of bed. "I think tomorrow will be another fun day. I was hitting it all over the place". Those are all different distances the ball travels. I just need to execute.

"We've got a long way to go", Woods said. "I drove it well. Today was a good day", Woods told reporters after the round.

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