NASSAU, BAHAMAS – DECEMBER 06: Gary Woodland plays his second shot on the 18th hole during the third round of the 2019 Hero World Challenge at Albany on December 06, 2019, in Nassau, Bahamas. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)
By Brian Wacker
NEW PROVIDENCE, Bahamas — Tiger Woods has a lot on his plate at the moment as tournament host of this week’s Hero World Challenge and playing captain of the U.S. Presidents Cup team that heads to Australia next week.
He’ll also enter Saturday with a chance to win for the third time this year.
After a five-under 67 on Saturday, Woods trails leader Gary Woodland by just two strokes with one round to go at Albany.
“Putting things in boxes has always been something I’ve been good at,” Woods said. “Because when I’m out there playing, I’ve got to get into my little world and take care of that.”
Through the first three rounds, no one has done that better than Woodland. For the second straight day, he birdied his final two holes en route to a 68.
Woodland is headed to Australia next week, too. It will be his first Presidents Cup. But first thing’s first.
“Obviously looking forward to next week, but we’ve got a big day ahead of us [Saturday],” Woodland said.
Though this week amounts to something of a working vacation for some, a victory by Woodland would be his first since capturing the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach in June. It doesn’t figure to be easy.
With five players – including Henrik Stenson, Justin Thomas, defending champion Jon Rahm and Patrick Reed – within three strokes of the lead, Sunday figures to be a shootout. The winner will also likely come from one of those half-dozen players with the next closest group seven strokes back.
Of those in contention, Stenson and Rahm are the only ones not headed to the Presidents Cup. They’ll instead each head home — Stenson to Orlando and Rahm to Spain to get married. Not that the distraction of what awaits for those headed to Australia figures to be any kind of advantage.
“They’re all keen to do a good result and to play well and try and win here [Saturday] before heading down to Melbourne for the Presidents Cup,” said Stenson, who is looking for his first victory in two years. “I’m just going to try and do my thing, and we’re right up in the mix. I haven’t been in contention too many times this year. It’s nice to be there and hopefully we can be one of the guys to be in with a chance when it comes down to the final holes.”
A victory for Rahm, meanwhile, would be his third in as many starts and fourth of the year.
What’s the key for Woodland?
“With the wind, it’s controlling the golf ball,” he said. “You’ve got to drive the golf ball in the fairway out here. You can get some pretty gnarly lies outside of that fairway. So drive the golf ball in the fairway for me, get it on the greens, make a lot of putts and get out here with some fun.”
There you go.