The rookie in front of Tiger Woods has nothing to lose

Tricia Pearson
March 12, 2018

Woods got the crowd roaring as he chipped in for birdie from the back of the ninth green to tie for the lead, and holed out from 20-feet at the next for another birdie.

"There's a packed leader board", said Woods, who is tied with Snedeker and Justin Rose at eight under, with Patrick Reed and Sam Burns tied for fifth two strokes back.

Woods very much has a chance to win this tournament when he tees off at 1:50 p.m. ET with Brandt Snedeker, who is T-2 and 8 under with Woods and Justin Rose after a 4-under 67.

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. Looking forward it. I was smiling a lot out there. "I don't have a problem posting scores - just trying to figure out how to play golf again". I keep getting a little bit better here and there, making these little subtle tweaks. For Rose, who shot a near-round of the day on Saturday with a 66, a win before the Masters (where he has performed beautifully in recent years) would give him a ton of confidence going into Augusta. "I tried to get relaxed as early as possible and fortunately got off to a good start and kind of settled me down nicely".

"I feel comfortable out there". "I'm able to play more feel golf".

"I played myself right there into contention, so it will be a fun Sunday".

Tiger Woods waves after putting for par on the 16th during the first round of the Valspar Championship golf tournament at Innisbrook Resort - Copperhead Course.

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Those same Missouri Tigers that beat Arkansas by 10 last Saturday in Columbia, Mo., were upset by Ole Miss last month in Columbia. Among others, SC has beaten SEC co-champ Auburn and also beat those Kentucky Wildcats that thumped Arkansas 87-72 at Walton.

Woods knows better than anyone those days aren't sure to last, but the progress he's made and the work he's put in have led to this moment. Conners holds the 54-hole lead at 9-under 204. "I just need to execute".

He spent Saturday playing one group behind Tiger, hearing every roar of the crowd when the fan favorite delivered a chip-in birdie or long-range putt. He hit 14 greens Saturday and got up and down to save par (or better) three of four times.

It is hard to overstate the depths from which Woods has recently climbed, from the back surgeries to the tabloid scandals to the DUI arrest just 10 months ago, when he was found to have had five different prescription drugs in his system.

Another birdie followed at the par-5 fifth after Woods almost chipped in for eagle. He showed no obvious signs of nerves or tension in Round 3, tallying six birdies and three bogeys to maintain his place atop the leaderboard. That left him with a three-under 67, for four under over all, and a share of the lead. You play in group in front of him is probably the toughest because everyone is trying to gain a vantage point.

For Conners, Sunday would be a life-changer.

He dropped his only shot on the next hole when his tee shot sailed over the green into matted, thin grass where the gallery had been standing. "It's fun to hear the crowd going insane again and realize how excited we are in having him back out here and play the way he is".

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