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Golf: Graeme McDowell still leader at Sherwood after three

Tiger Woods is five back in his own tournament

Posted: December 1, 2012 7:16 p.m.
Updated: December 1, 2012 7:16 p.m.

Graeme McDowell watches his second shot on the 18th hole during the third round of the World Challenge golf tournament at Sherwood Country Club in Thousand Oaks on Saturday.

 

THOUSAND OAKS – Technically, this World Challenge golf tournament is mostly being played for bragging rights.

But don't tell that to the field of 18 of the world's most elite golfers, who battled through another soggy, overcast day on Saturday in the third round of the non-PGA Tour sanctioned event at Sherwood Country Club.

After pulling in front Friday for a 36-hole lead, Graeme McDowell shot a bogey-free 68 to retain a two-shot lead over Keegan Bradley headed into today’s final round.

“Saturday felt like it was a very, very important day for me to kind of hang in there and get rid of all the nerves,” said McDowell, who is 13-under after 54 holes. “It was really a dress rehearsal for the big show (today).”

McDowell, who won the World Challenge in 2010, will be chased by Bradley and defending champion Tiger Woods, who is in the hunt at 8-under after carding a third-round 69.

Woods is tied with Bo Van Pelt, who shot a 70 on Saturday.

As the course continues to collect moisture due to intermittent rain throughout the week, conditions would seem to favor lower scores with ever-softening greens.

Yet no one was able to make a big run up the leaderboard on Saturday. The top seven players to start the day on the board were the same seven when all was said and done.

“I think the scoring hasn’t been as low,” McDowell said. “I’d say probably most of the players are surprised at kind of how mediocre the scoring is.”

McDowell and Bradley are the only two players to shoot all three rounds in the 60s with Bradley’s 67 coming in as Saturday’s best.

Bradley, now at 11-under, will play with McDowell in the final grouping today, teeing off at 10:58 a.m.

McDowell and Bradley both have just two bogeys apiece for the tournament, giving them the cleanest scorecards in the field.

Behind Woods and Van Pelt, 2009 World Challenge champion Jim Furyk is fifth at 7-under, followed by Rickie Fowler at 6-under and Nick Watney at 5-under.

“If the conditions are like they were on the back nine today, if we don’t have a lot of rain, the greens are so soft, someone could get on a roll,” Furyk said. “You just have to knock some putts in.”

For the second consecutive day, McDowell came out hot early and when the rain was coming down heavy. He made a pair of lengthy putts to birdie two of the first four holes he played before adding a third birdie thanks to a nice 192-yard approach shot on par-4 9th hole.

Later in the day, as the rain let up and the sun came out, McDowell was able to pick up just one more birdie on No. 11 and he held serve with seven straight pars to finish the day.

In a tournament hosted by his charity foundation, Woods took better advantage on the back nine, sinking three birdie putts over the course of four holes. That included a 30-footer on the par-3 No. 15 and tricky 18-foot double breaker on the par-3 17th.

His only mistake came on No. 8, another par-3, which he’s now bogeyed all three rounds of the tournament.

“I missed a few opportunities out there,” Woods said. “I felt like I played decent enough to get to 10-under – to get to double digits – and just didn’t do it.”

Woods is going for his sixth win at the World Challenge. He’s finished in the top two at the tournament 10 times since the event began in 1999.

He’ll tee off with Van Pelt at 10:47 a.m. Furyk and Fowler will go off just before that at 10:36.

 

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