Tiger Woods is 18 holes away from reclaiming the world No. 1 ranking after taking the lead at the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill by shooting a 6-under 66 to go 11-under for the tournament on Saturday.
Woods has not had the top ranking since October of 2010, but will be the world’s No. 1 golfer with a victory at Bay Hill. He started the third round four strokes behind co-leaders Justin Rose and Bill Haas. He is two shots ahead of Rose and American Rickie Fowler.
Woods, the defending champion at the tournament, has won at Bay Hill, which has been the site of some of his greatest and most dramatic moments on the 18th hole, 8 times, counting the 1991 U.S. Junior Amateur tournament. He has won the Arnold Palmer Invitation seven times.
But on Saturday, Woods’s signature moment came on the 16th hole, which he eagled to soar past Rose as the signature “Tiger roar” rippled throughout the golf course.
Woods will be in the final group on Sunday with Rickie Fowler, who was in the clubhouse at -9 before Rose.
If Woods, who has never lost at Bay Hill when leading after 54 holes, wins on Sunday, it will be his third win of the year on the Tour.
Woods, who has devoted his life to beating Jack Nicklaus’s record of 18 majors, seems primed to win the Masters and other majors this year.
For the last three years, while he has been recovering from multiple knee injuries and personal scandals involving multiple women with whom he cheater on his wife, Woods has still come to close to winning multiple majors, but his putting has failed him on each occasion.
Woods has had trouble reading greens and adjusting to the speeds of greens, particularly if rain had softened the greens in the opening rounds or if the sun had baked them while he was in the final groups on Saturday or Sunday.
But his putting has been improving this year, and he has looked like the Woods of old–fist pumps and all– at the last two tournaments. When he won at Doral last week, Woods putted like the golfer who ran away from the field at the Masters and the U.S. Open when he had the so-called “Tiger Slam” of holding all four major titles at once though not in a calendar year.
He did so again on Saturday at Bay Hill.
If Woods wins on Sunday, it will also be his 77th win as a professional, which would put him five wins shy of Sam Snead’s record of 82 wins.