Albany, Bahamas 06 December 2019: Moving day came earlier in the Bahamas, with the Hero World Challenge scheduling a Saturday finish to accommodate time for the Presidents Cup. And it was Justin Thomas and Tiger Woods, who took it on their shoulders to produce a brilliant 67 each to move up the leaderboard. Woods and Thomas are only two behind Gary Woodland, setting up a juicy finish for the 18-player tournament. Henrik Stenson is in second at 12-under, one stroke behind the US Open champion.
At the bottom of the table were Patrick Cantlay (71) and Bryson DeChambeau (70), who have moved ground from their first round scores of 74 and 76 respectively, but not enough to escape gravity at the lower end.
Overnight leader Patrick Reed was having a placid day, struggling to get a move on. The frustration seems to have gotten the better of him, as he was seen slicing the sand in a waste bunker on the 11th hole, to improve his lie. You are allowed to ground the club in a waste bunker, but rule 13 does not allow for any improvements in the lie. He was penalised two strokes, turning his battling 72 into a 74. The penalty assessed at 11th meant that it was an 8 on the card. Reed dropped to sixth on the leaderboard, 10-under 206.
Woods was in supreme form, working off a bogey free 66 on Thursday. The American added six birdies on Friday, including one on the 18th hole. The final hole at Albany Golf Resort has challenged Woods in the past. But he played it to perfection in the third round, sailing eight feet to the flag from 140 yards out to secure a birdie. That gave him a 67, the best round of the day with Justin Thomas.
“Yeah, I am going to have to make some birdies again tomorrow,” said Woods. “The conditions, the forecast will be about the same as it was today, and same kind of wind, so the golf course can be had. You can see, I am sure you will see a lot of good scores today. You know, I shot 67, but I left a few out there today. I missed a bunch of putts. In order to win tomorrow, I am going to have to make my share.”
Thomas also made six birdies in the third round, with his lone bogey coming at the 7th during a string of four birdies in six holes. Woods made his bogey at the par-3 eighth hole. Thomas and Woods are tied in third with Jon Rahm at 11-under through 54 holes.
“I am playing well. I have really taken this offseason seriously. I did in the past, but not near as serious or I didn’t prepare as well,” said Thomas. “And I feel that it’s showing. I mean, I have come here and had two pretty lacklustre performances. So I was just kind of sick of coming to a tournament I feel like is statistically your best chance to win, you only have to beat 17 guys, and not event coming close to having a chance.
“You know it is a course that fits my game,” he added. “You have got to make a lot of birdies. And, you know, I just felt like I needed to really put in the paper work, not only for this week, but for Presidents Cup as well.”
Thomas and Woods are likely to play together again tomorrow, as they have for the last two days. Woodland and Stenson both made 68 in the third round. Rahm and Chez Reavie made 69 each, as did Jordan Spieth and Tony Finau.