DORAL, Fla. — Tiger Woods hit a tee shot that got stuck in a palm tree. That’s about the only thing that didn’t fall his way Saturday in the Cadillac Championship.
Woods made seven more birdies on the Blue Monster at Doral, the last one from 15 feet on the 18th hole that gave him a 5-under 67 and a four-shot lead over Graeme McDowell heading into the final round.
It was a different kind of day for Davis High graduate Nick Watney, who followed up consecutive rounds below par with a 5-over 77 on Saturday. The former Blue Devil was 4-over on his front nine and needed a birdie on No. 16 to remain at 5-over for the day.
Woods, meanwhile, has made 24 birdies and taken only 74 putts through three rounds, both personal bests in his PGA Tour career.
It put him in great position to win his 17th career World Golf Championship, and his first since 2009.
He has a 39-2 record when he has the outright lead going into the final round on the PGA Tour. The only time he has ever lost a lead of more than two shots was in 2010 against an 18-man field at the Chevron World Challenge, when McDowell beat him in a playoff.
McDowell was six shots out of the lead with three holes to play when he tried to keep it close. His drive on the 16th finished just over the green, and he chipped in for eagle. He picked up another shot on the 17th when Woods’ tee shot embedded high into the trunk of a palm tree. Once his ball was identified, he took a penalty drop and made bogey.
The lead was down to three shots, but not for long.
“After I made birdie on 15, I was looking pretty good with a six-shot lead, and with a drivable par 4,” Woods said. “Two holes later, it’s now cut down to three. I piped a tee shot down there, hit a little 9-iron there and was able to pour that putt in there.”
Woods made birdie to reach 18-under 198, and McDowell did well to stay only four shots behind with a two-putt from 85 feet away. That gave him a 69, and another date with Woods in the final group at Doral.
Phil Mickelson, who badly wanted to get into the final group, overcame a three-putt from 4 feet for double bogey on the third hole by making four birdies the rest of the way. He had a 69, along with Steve Stricker, and both were five shots behind.