Tiger Woods: Can Tiger Woods win Fedex Cup with Tour Championship victory?

McIlroy believes his decision to miss The Northern Trust was justified

McIlroy believes his decision to miss The Northern Trust was justified

In the third round of the 2018 TOUR Championship, Tiger Woods came out birding six of his front nine holes to help him take the solo lead by three shots heading into Sunday.

After entering Saturday's third round tied for the lead with Rose, Woods birdied six of his first seven holes, en route to a 5-under-par 65, the day's best round.

American Woods carded two-under-par 68, while Englishman Rose shot 67 at East Lake.

Woods' last victory was capturing the 2013 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. He wound up in a tie for 10th, and then was gone from the PGA Tour for the next 17 months while he recovered from two back surgeries.

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Rory McIlroy, victor two years ago of both the FedEx Cup and Tour Championship, remains in the hunt in sole possession of third after shooting a 68. He was two back.

Woods has only lost twice in his career when leading after 54 holes, but in each of those losses his lead was two shots or fewer. A flip wedge to 12 feet and two putts later, he was back in a tie with Rose. Woods led by five strokes late on, but showed a hint of fragility by fluffing a pitch shot at the par-four 16th, where he failed to carry his ball up the slope. The best part is I'm releasing that toe, and that toe feels like it's hooking every time.

"Well, I need to get there first, and that's my responsibility to get there", he said.

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. He won that weekend five years ago in Akron, just as he has won all 23 times he held a lead of three-plus strokes at a tournament's three-quarter mark, all of those wins coming in a time when the sight of Woods in his Sunday red was practically synonymous with him either closing out or chasing down a victory.

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Barring a Sunday bottoming-out that other guy will nearly surely claim this year's FedEx Cup, as even a Woods victory will not be enough to close the gap that now has him 20th in the standings.

"But for me, all I can do is concentrate on myself". He missed several good birdie opportunities as poor putting continues to plague him. A four-time major victor, McIlroy, 29, has played with Woods just once in a final round, back at the 2012 Masters when both were well out of contention. He is now second on the FedEx list, the leader Bryson DeChambeau has faded badly, and so he could finish fourth and still win the bonus. The top 25 money winners in the four-tournament series earn PGA Tour cards, and the final card went for $40,625 a year ago.

"I don't have to shoot 63 or 64 and hope I get help".

"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.

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