Tiger Woods briefly had share of the lead at the Memorial, finishes with third-round 68

Tiger Woods shot 5-under on the front nine Saturday at the Memorial and had a share of the lead on the back nine. (Getty)
Tiger Woods shot 5-under on the front nine Saturday at the Memorial and had a share of the lead on the back nine. (Getty)

Tiger Woods fans had good reason to be pumped, at least for the first nine holes.

Woods put himself in contention at the Memorial on Saturday, shooting a 4-under 68. Woods even vaulted into a share of the lead, if only for one hole.

[Memorial Tournament leaderboard: See where Tiger Woods stands]

Tiger shoots 5-under 31 on front nine

Woods, who entered Saturday at 5 under, played the front nine in 5 under, including a birdie at No. 9, to close the gap to one shot behind 36-hole co-leaders Kyle Stanley and Joaquin Niemann, who hadn’t even started their third rounds by the time Woods made the turn. Woods was even par through his first four holes Saturday, then went eagle-birdie-birdie on holes 5-7 before his birdie at No. 9.

How good was Tiger on the front nine? He hit all seven fairways and eight of nine greens in regulation.

Back nine more of a challenge

Woods settled for pars on holes 10-14 before a birdie on the par-5 15th hole gave him a share of the lead.

But he gave it right back with a three-putt bogey at 16. He parred 17 but bogeyed the par-4 18th, with another three-putt, to close out the round in disappointing fashion.

“I could have easily shot 62 or 63 yesterday and could have easily shot 63 or 64 without doing much today,” Woods said. “I hit the ball well enough to shoot in the low 60s pretty easily if I could have just putted normal.”

Who would have thought this was possible

Woods has come a long way since Thursday, when he was 4 over through the first seven holes and it looked like he wouldn’t even make it to the weekend. But he turned it around and electrified the crowd on Friday at Muirfield Village with an eagle from the fairway. And things got even better on Saturday, especially on the front nine.

Woods’ play on Saturday shouldn’t come as a total surprise. Third rounds have been good to him this season. He entered the Memorial sixth on the PGA Tour in third-round scoring average (68.57).

But now there will be more pressure on him Sunday. Now he’ll look to back up Saturday’s strong front-nine play with a strong 18-hole final round.

“I think it’s gonna be not too far away, he’s gonna know how to finish,” Memorial Tournament host Jack Nicklaus said.

Who knows? Maybe even this Sunday.

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