(Reuters) - U.S. Open champion Gary Woodland birdied the final two holes for a one-shot lead after the Hero World Challenge third round in the Bahamas on Friday as tournament host Tiger Woods lurked two shots behind.
American Woodland fired a wedge shot to within 18 inches of the cup at the final hole to cap off a four-under-par 68 at Albany Golf Club on the island of New Providence.
At 13-under 203, he goes into Saturday’s final round ahead of Swede Henrik Stenson (68), whose lead evaporated with a bogey at the last that spoiled an otherwise flawless performance.
Woods birdied the last for a 67, joining fellow American Justin Thomas and Spain’s defending champion Jon Rahm on two back.
Halfway leader Patrick Reed received a two-stroke penalty after brushing the sand twice with his club on practice swings in a sandy waste area at the 11th hole, which effectively improved his lie.
He was penalised for violating the rule that governs “removing or pressing down sand or loose soil”.
With the penalty strokes, Reed shot 74 and slipped three shots off the pace.
Leader Woodland was certainly not counting any chickens with such a talented group poised close behind.
“Looking forward to next week but we’ve got a big day ahead of us tomorrow,” he said, referring to the upcoming Presidents Cup, where he will be part of the American team to take on the Internationals in Australia.
“It was a nice finish. I played well today. Excited about where I’m at.”
Woods made his move with a score that matched the day’s best, but he lamented leaving some meat on the proverbial bone.
“I know I shot 67 but I left a few out there,” he said.
“I missed a bunch of putts. In order to win tomorrow I’ll need to make my share.”
If Woods wins it will be back-to-back victories after last month’s Zozo Championship in Japan, where he matched Sam Snead’s record of 82 career PGA Tour victories.
“My swing feels good since I came back from my little knee procedure,” he said, referring to an August surgery.
“I just need to make a few more putts.”
Second-placed Stenson hit a series of superb iron shots reminiscent of the form he displayed to win the 2016 British Open in a head-to-head duel with Phil Mickelson.
The Swede said he was not quite firing on all cylinders, but was seeing some positive signs.
“It’s definitely been a big step forward,” he said. “I’m happy with the progress.
“Still not 100% confident in it but I’ve hit a lot of good iron shots again and kept the ball in play most of the week.
“To finish with a bogey always stinks a bit but all in all another good day out there.”
Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina; Editing by Ken Ferris