Golf-Woods two ahead after testing day at Sherwood

* World number one birdies final hole

* Only four players break par on tough day (Adds further quotes, detail)

By Mark Lamport-Stokes

THOUSAND OAKS, California, Dec 7 (Reuters) - Tiger Woods stayed on track for his sixth victory of the year as he maintained a two-shot lead after a brutally difficult day for scoring at the Northwestern Mutual World Challenge on Saturday.

The American world number one ground out a level-par 72 in blustery winds with several tough pin positions at Sherwood Country Club to end the third round of the tournament which he hosts at 11-under 205.

In glorious late afternoon sunshine after a rainy start to the day, Woods rolled in a 12-foot birdie putt at the par-four last to retain control of an event he has won a record five times.

"It was a tough day," Woods, who frequently backed off shots as the breezes shifted, told reporters after offsetting four birdies with four bogeys.

"The wind was all over the place. It was really tough to pull clubs and the greens were softer. They were still pretty quick, and unless you got (the ball) above the hole, there are some really difficult pins out there.

"So it made it even more imperative to miss the ball in the right spots (below the hole), because we weren't going to always hit the ball tight. Obviously a lot of guys shot some higher numbers."

Compatriot Zach Johnson, the first-round leader, was alone in second place after sinking an 18-foot birdie putt at the last for a 72. Bubba Watson, the 2012 Masters champion, was a further two strokes back at seven under, after a 69.

Only four players in the elite field of 18 dipped under par for the day, Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy the best of them with a six-birdie 68 that left him a distant 13 shots off the pace.


Woods, two shots in front overnight after equaling his own course record with a stunning second-round 62, made a confident start on Saturday, two-putting for birdie at the par-five second to maintain that advantage.

However, he bogeyed the fourth after taking a penalty drop when his tee shot ended up in a hazard and the par-three eighth after missing the green to the left off the tee to drop back into a tie for the lead with Johnson.

Johnson, the 2007 Masters champion, briefly moved ahead after sinking a six-foot putt to birdie the par-four ninth but Woods immediately responded, draining a 12-footer for birdie at the 10th to get back to 11 under.

Just two holes later, Woods was handed a three-stroke advantage as Johnson, who had bogeyed the par-five 11th after hitting into trees, found a plugged lie in a greenside bunker at the par-three 12th on the way to a double.

Woods surprisingly three-putted from only six feet to bogey the par-five 13th, then three-putted from long range for a bogey at the short 15th as his lead was cut to one shot.

However, Woods recovered with a two-putt birdie at the par-five 16th, narrowly missing his eagle attempt from 15 feet, to forge two strokes clear.

Though Johnson rammed in his long putt on the 18th green to get to nine under, Woods followed him with his 12-footer to retain a two-shot advantage.

"I'm pleased at having the lead," said Woods, who has gone on to triumph 48 out of 52 times when holding at least a share of the 54-hole lead on the PGA Tour. "Not real pleased with the way I putted today. I missed a lot of putts."

The scoring average on Saturday was 72.998, despite preferred lies being in operation due to the damp conditions and a high-quality field that includes 12 of the world's 20 players.

"Today was tough," said Johnson, who was runner-up here to Woods in both 2007 and 2011. "It was just hard. I mean all-around survival slash commitment, trust, et cetera, et cetera, it was brutal.

"I had opportunities out there to post a really good number today, but I didn't take myself out of it certainly with (birdies at) 16 and 18." (Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes; Editing by Gene Cherry/Peter Rutherford)

  • 76ers stop singer from performing national anthem for 'We Matter' jersey

    The NBA’s much-anticipated continuation of the NFL’s national anthem protests have so far been pretty tame. Philadelphia 76ers officials apparently wanted to avoid even the mild controversy drummed up by those incidents at their season opener against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday night. Recording artist Sevyn Streeter was set to perform the national anthem, but she never made it out onto the court once the powers that be saw her “We Matter” t-shirt.

    Ball Don't Lie
  • Sammy Sosa won't reunite with the Cubs during the World Series

    Reaching the World Series is the ideal time for a franchise to celebrate and reflect on its tremendous history. As everyone knows, the team hasn’t reached the World Series since 1945. One player who won’t be included in any of that is former outfielder Sammy Sosa.

    Big League Stew
  • HIGHLIGHTS: Rangers' five unanswered goals catapults them past Bruins, 5-2

    The Bruins jumped out to an early lead, but couldn't hold on as the Rangers stormed back in the final two periods with five unanswered goals. Led by Brandon Pirri, the Rangers defeated the struggling Bruins 5-2.

    NBC Sports
  • Major League Baseball continues to waffle on Chief Wahoo

    World Series fever is gripping Cleveland, but an American Indian organization based in Cleveland is calling for protest. Of course such protests have taken place for years, with the Cleveland American Indian Movement and others referring to Chief Wahoo as a “symbol of genocide” while simultaneously noting its similarity to blackface “Sambo” characters and other racist imagery that has long since been banished from polite society. I’m assuming that the protesters are, as they usually are, being ignored by Indians fans as they make their way to the gates of Progressive Field. Fans like this one. Meanwhile, Wahoo remains, institutionalized by the Cleveland Indians and Major League Baseball in ways

  • Video: Cam Talbot was very angry with T.J. Oshie

    Cam Talbot had another strong game for the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday night by stopping 34 of the 35 Washington Capitals shots he faced in a 4-1 win, improving his season save percentage to a robust .927. Along with backstopping the Oilers to their sixth win in seven games to open the season, the team’s best start since a guy by the name of Wayne Gretzky played for them, he was also involved in some rough stuff in the second period when he went old school on Capitals forward T.J. Oshie for charging into his crease and cross-checking him. Talbot’s response (as seen in the video above) was an attempt to feed Oshie his blocker pad. The end result of that exchange was Oshie getting a two-minute

  • NASCAR (Finally) Limits Cup Drivers in Xfinity and Truck Races

    The 2017 rules for Xfinity state that a full-time Cup driver with five or more full seasons can race in no more than 10 Xfinity races. The races they can partake in are also limited. Out of the 33 planned Xfinity races next year, full-time Cup drivers cannot race in any of the seven Chase races, the regular season finale prior to the Chase, or the four ‘Dash for Cash’ races—which are yet to be announced.

    The Drive
  • Shea Weber powers Canadiens’ early surge after controversial trade

    The puck rolled to Shea Weber and everyone in Barclays Center knew what was coming next. In the process, he screened him, and Weber’s point blast on the power play at 17:03 gave the Habs the lead and eventually the win, 3-2, improving to 6-0-1 on the young season. “I’m maybe [surprised] at the point total,” said Montreal’s Paul Byron.

    Puck Daddy
  • Bills say if Patriots run through their pregame drills again there will be another fight

    The first time the New England Patriots and Buffalo Bills played each other this year, the most memorable highlight might have been a pregame skirmish. The Bills are promising more fireworks if the Patriots don’t show more respect for their pregame warmups. Football doesn’t have a ton of unwritten rules, but one is that you don’t run through the other team’s warmup drills before the game.

    Shutdown Corner
  • HSBC Champions: Tee Times, TV Schedule, Prize Money

    (c) 2016 Time Inc. Star-Studded Field for First WGC Event of the Season Russell Knox looks to defend his 2015 WGC-HSBC Champions title against a star-studded field that includes Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson, Bubba Watson and Rickie Fowler.Russell Knox

  • The 15 Best-Dressed Ballers in the NBA

    In honor of the start of a new NBA season tonight, we're rounding up the best dressed basketball players in the game right now. Though some fashion-forward athletes like Kobe Bryant and Amar'e Stoudemire have recently hung up their jerseys, the are plenty

    Harper's Bazaar
  • Man United beats City in EFL Cup Manchester derby, easing pressure on Mourinho

    Juan Mata scored the winning goal for Manchester United in the 54th minute. For an October game in the lamentably irrelevant League Cup, now for some reason renamed as the English Football League Cup, this one actually mattered. Because it was a Manchester derby, of course.

    FC Yahoo
  • Rumor Roundup: Goldberg HoF, McMahon/Trump, Hardy/TNA, Paige

    Speculating on the rumors surrounding pro wrestling is a favored pastime of many fans, perhaps second only to actually watching the matches. In this daily column, we take a look at the latest rumors being churned out by the pro wrestling rumor mill. Important reminder: Rumors are just that -- rumors. None of this has been confirmed as legitimate news or fact, it's just circulating around the pro wrestling rumor mill. Remember, take it all with a grain of salt. Rumors for the Day: Goldberg is expected to headline the WWE Hall of Fame class of 2017. Vince McMahon reportedly told current talent (and any former employees who asked him) to not respond to media inquiries about WWE Hall of Famer and

    Cageside Seats
  • The Cubs were so bad in Game 1 that Cleveland police are worried

    The Chicago Cubs turned in a disappointing performance during their 6-0 loss to the Cleveland Indians in Game 1 of the World Series. Corey Kluber and the Indians’ big, bad bullpen completely dominated Chicago’s bats, giving up just seven hits over nine shutout innings. While that would normally be good news to the people of Cleveland, one local group seemed a bit concerned about the Cubs’ offensive struggles in Game 1. The Cubs’ bats no-showed so hard that the Cleveland police department tweeted that they filed a missing persons report for them.

    Big League Stew
  • NHL on NBCSN: Bruins need a rookie goalie to step up against Rangers

    NBCSN will continue its coverage of the 2016-17 campaign tonight when the New York Rangers host the Boston Bruins at 8:00 p.m. ET. If you want to watch the game online, you can do so here. The Boston Bruins have been without starting goalie Tuukka Rask (lower body) for two games now and things haven’t gone well. When Rask is between the pipes, Boston is 3-0-0, but when he’s not, they’re 0-3-0. They dropped Saturday night’s game to the Montreal Canadiens with Anton Khudobin in goal and with him on the shelf too, the Bruins were dismantled 5-0 by the Minnesota Wild last night. The Bruins turned to former first rounder Malcolm Subban yesterday and he lasted a little more than 30 minutes before being

  • Chief Wahoo debate intensifies with the World Series in Cleveland

    In the middle was Sundance, the one-named activist who oversees the Cleveland American Indian Movement, the group that has been protesting Cleveland’s Chief Wahoo logo and the Indians’ team name on every Opening Day for the past 46 years. The Indians being in the World Series inspired him to organize his first protest of the postseason, to get his message in front of a bigger, potentially international audience.

    Big League Stew
  • Georges St-Pierre shuts down rumored Michael Bisping fight at UFC 206

    A proposed fight between Georges St-Pierre and Michael Bisping at UFC 206 was quickly shot down by GSP. For a moment, there appeared to be a light at the end of the tunnel in the ongoing battle between Georges St-Pierre and the UFC. After St-Pierre declared himself as a free agent, the UFC drew their line in the sand and stated that the former champion was still under contract.

  • Don't panic, fantasy hockey owners!

    Yahoo Sports' Greg Wyshynski offers early fantasy hockey advice including a Maple Leafs forward to grab off the waiver wire and a goalie to ship out while the going is good.

    Yahoo Sports Videos
  • Bob Murray will 'do everything in my power' to keep Ducks together

    Anaheim Ducks general manager Bob Murray wants to give his team’s core another opportunity at a championship despite salary cap and internal budget questions. This is what led to the decision to re-sign restricted free agent defenseman Hampus Lindholm on Thursday to a six-year contract worth $5.25 million per-year and not move any pieces to make room for Lindholm. The Ducks are currently pressed up against the cap, and have forward Nate Thompson (Achilles injury) who makes $1.6 million per-year, and defenseman Simon Despres (possible concussion-related issues) who makes $3.7 million per-year on long-term injured reserve.

    Puck Daddy
  • Russell Westbrook's reaction to this 76ers fan's middle fingers is the best

    The start of the NBA season brings lots of excitement for fans. Many of the best athletes in the world are back on our TV screens on a nightly basis, and storylines such as Kevin Durant’s first games with the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers’ first attempts to defend their historic title loom large. Also, sometimes an angry Philadelphia 76ers fan in an Allen Iverson jersey flips off Russell Westbrook and elicits one of the funniest reactions you’ll ever see.

    Ball Don't Lie
  • Welcome to the Tim Tebow baseball and PR Experience

    In the last seven days, I've talked to a handful of Mets insiders, none of whom believe Tim Tebow will be with the team next spring in Port St. Lucie. I've heard several different reasons behind their thinking. But, in the end, everyone agreed that -- if he's still with the organization -- he's more likely to show up in St. Lucie when minor-league camp starts, as opposed to when big leaguers arrive in February. This is good news ... if you ask me. It's nothing against Tebow, who has every right to pursue a career in baseball. It's just, the Mets have real goals, and real business at hand, as they try to right their ship and get back to the World Series. I expect Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Noah

  • Is Jake Browning the nation's best quarterback?

    Dr. Saturday's Graham Watson takes a look at the Washington Huskies quarterback in this week's Heisman Watch.

    Yahoo Sports Videos
  • Video: Infant Twins Might Be the Chicago Cubs' Littlest Fans

    And Chicago Cubs fans are kind of licking their wounds this morning after last night's big defeat to the Indians but still. Just getting to the World Series has been a lifetime wait for many cubs fans. But for true of those fans it's only been four months Jacqueline Driscoll of our station in Springfield Illinois has a story. It's the curse of the Billy goat that many cubs fans blame for their set any one year long drought but maybe they just needed a good luck charm. Or to. As a superstitious cubs fan. Moon I'll put some correlation there. Clark and Addison McFarland recognize the names any good cubs fan will it at C intersection where Wrigley Field stands he. Scott Clark Addison's dad says

    ABC News
  • Alex Rodriguez is taking his analyst role quite seriously

    If you’ve happened to catch any of the coverage of the 2016 postseason on Fox and FS1, you’ve heard former Yankees DH Alex Rodriguez as part of an analyst panel with host Kevin Burkhardt and former major leaguers Pete Rose and Frank Thomas. Rodriguez has drawn rave reviews not just for passing a rather low bar we set for former athletes-turned-commentators, but because he’s adding real insight drawn both from his playing days and from doing research. Indeed, Rodriguez is taking his new job as an analyst quite seriously, Newsday’s Neil Best reports. Bardia Shah-Rais, the VP of production for Fox, said of Rodriguez, “This is not a hobby for him. It’s not a parachute in. He’s invested. If we have

  • Column: Should NHRA get with the times to grow sport?

    Drag racing has been one of the biggest motorsport passions of my life. Ever since the first time I went to the now-defunct U.S. 30 Dragstrip in northwest Indiana – with the famous loud and echoing radio liner, “Sunday, Sunday, Sunday, at beautiful U.S. 30 Dragstrip, where the GREAT ONES Runnnnnnn!” – in the early 1970s, I’ve been a big fan of the quarter-mile. (By the way, for those in the Midwest who remember U.S. 30, which closed nearly 30 years ago, efforts are under way to bring it back. But I digress.) As a reporter, I’ve covered drag racing since the early 1980s. I still get as excited today following the sport as I did back then. But … and you probably figured a but was coming. While

  • Are Two NFL Stars Betting Six-Figure Cars on Total Receiving Yards?

    Last season, Pittsburgh Steelers’ Antonio Brown ranked second in the NFL among all wide receivers, with a total of 1,834 yards. New York Jets’ Brandon Marshall clocked in fourth, with 1,502. Analyze data for the past three years, and Brown’s still in the lead with an average of 125 receptions and 1,677 yards, while Marshall averaged 90 catches and 1,173 yards.

    The Drive