Carnoustie's jumping as Woods gets that feeling back
It was almost like he’d never been away. Tiger Woods rolled back the years and rolled in the putts as he put himself right in contention at The Open.
Woods got Carnoustie jumping in a way that perhaps only he can, the packed galleries scampering after him as he scrambled around.
But for a few grey hairs and a bit less hair, it was briefly like going back in time, perhaps to Hoylake in 2006 when he swaggered across similar sun-baked and scorched course to a famous victory. His third round 66 puts him right in the mix for the 15th major of his career - a sentence many thought it was unlikely to be to write again.
He will start the final round on five under par and with windy weather forecast on Sunday, anything could happen.
The former world number one started six shots back in a tie for 29th but went on to produce his best round since his long-awaited comeback earlier this year.
They call it Moving Day for a reason and this was vintage Woods — gritty, determined and focussed. Whatever happens this weekend, he’s certainly back.
“That was good, that was good,” he said, with just a touch of relief. “It's been a few years since I've felt like this.
“Given what happened last few years, I didn't know if that would ever happen again but here I am with a chance on a Sunday in a major championship. It's going to be fun.
“I didn't want to be too far back and I’m definitely in reach. I'm right there. I've got a chance at this, which is great.
“I didn't know I was tied for the lead at one point, I knew I was within one. We're not there yet, let me try and get there first."
Birdies at the 4th, 6th and 9th saw the return of his trademark fist pump, as he reached the turn in 33. His game firing on all cylinders, he picked up three shots in the next five holes before a three-putt on the 16th scarred his card.
It was Gary Player - a winner here at Carnoustie in 1968 - that coined that phrase: ‘The harder you practice, the luckier you get’.
Woods certainly has been putting in the hours during his comeback - and he definitely got lucky when he carved his 18th tee shot into Barry Burn, only for it to ricochet out into thick rough.
He laid up short of the feared hazard that dissects this final hole and then put his wedge dead, prompting a roar from the grandstand that was probably heard down the road in Dundee.
He duly held a testy putt that was as valuable as any of his six birdies that preceded it.
And, as he signed his card, he may have reflected on the moments he felt he’d never play or feel like this again. This was his best performance in a major since he made the same score in the second round at Augusta seven years ago.
And it was his best performance at The Open - which he has won three times - since the second round at Royal Liverpool 12 years ago.
“I played well, I really did,” he added.
“I hit a lot of good shots. I really didn't feel like I really made a bad swing until the 18th. I really felt like I had control of the golf ball and I made some longer putts, which was nice.
“That was big moment for me on the 18th, I knew I couldn’t give a shot up there.”
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