Tiger Woods in pole position
The fans supporting Tiger Woods turned the Buick Open into something more than a golf tournament.
Hearing chants of "Let's go, Tiger!" more befitting a college basketball game, Woods grabbed the lead after Saturday's third round of the $4.8 million event at the Warwick Hills Country Club.
Trying to dethrone two-time defending champion Vijay Singh, Woods overcame an early bogey to fire his third straight 6-under-par 66. His total of 18-under 198 is two strokes better than Lucas Glover, Scott Verplank and Robert Allenby.
Playing in his first event since winning the British Open two weeks ago, Woods is tracking his 50th career PGA Tour win. At just 30, he would become the youngest golfer to reach the plateau, as the legendary Jack Nicklaus - the player to whom Woods is most often compared - did not reach 50 wins until he was 33.
Woods grabbed sole possession of the lead with a two-putt birdie at the par-5 16th hole. As he walked onto the green at the par-3 17th, he was greeted with chants from the rowdy gallery and allowed himself a big smile.
Woods missed a long birdie try at 17 but converted a seven-footer at the closing hole for his seventh birdie of the day.
Glover, Verplank and Allenby all matched the 66 of Woods and remained within striking distance at 16-under 200. Allenby had five birdies on the back nine.
In search of his fourth title here, Singh carded a 68 to finish in a group of five at 15-under 201.
Last year, Singh held off a late charge by Woods and won by four strokes to join Tony Lema (1964-65) as the only repeat champions of the event. This year, he will have to chase Woods, who protects final-round leads better than any player in the history of the sport.
A spokesman for Buick, Woods won here in 2002, beginning a stretch of four straight top-four finishes.
Woods played his final three holes of the second round Saturday morning, carding a bogey to begin the third round one shot behind Brett Quigley. Woods had another bogey at the par-4 second but immediately followed with consecutive birdies to turn things around.
At the par-4 10th, Woods dropped his iron approach just inches from the cup before tapping in.
Joining Singh at 201 were playing partner Mike Weir (68), Joe Durant (67), Stephen Ames (66) and Vaughn Taylor, whose 9-under 63 matched the tournament's best round thus far.
Taylor's round included an eagle at the par-5 first hole and nine birdies. He could have been closer if not for his second bogey of the day at 17.
Quigley could not find the scoring touch he had during the first two rounds. His 71 left him four shots off the pace at 202 with Sean O'Hair (66), Charley Hoffman (67) and Woody Austin (68).