Honda Classic: Tiger Woods rediscovers form to delight adoring fans

 

Florida

Is the Tiger on the prowl again after months in hibernation? Woods had his lowest score on the US PGA Tour in seven months and although he remains way off the pace at Palm Beach Gardens he was at least assured of playing in the fourth round of the Honda Classic after shooting a five-under-par 65.

His playing partner, Luke Guthrie, admitted that he was inspired by watching Woods at close hand and he matched his 65 to sit alongside his guru on 5-under-par. That left them six shots behind Rory McIlroy, the second-round leader, who was due to start his third round later.

Guthrie said he learned from playing with the world’s No 1 player and he was trying to beat him. What surprised Guthrie was how many people showed up so early in the morning to watch them. That in itself can be intimidating but it lifted Guthrie.

In Pretoria, the former Ryder Cup player Ross Fisher, who is chasing his first European Tour victory in four years, will take a five-shot lead into the final round of the Tshwane Open today.

The Briton returned a five-under-par 67 to finish with an 18-under-par total of 198 at the Copperleaf Golf & Country Estate.

It was a better return than Fisher might initially have expected. The 33-year-old opened up with a bogey at the first but after that he reeled off seven birdies and dropped only one more stroke. He finished five shots clear of Northern Ireland’s Michael Hoey with Simon Dyson and Spain’s Carlos del Moral a shot further back on 12 under.

“I feel like I’m playing as good as I ever have, probably similar to when I was contending in Majors and getting myself into the Ryder Cup team,” Fisher said after his round. “If I were to win here it would be a massive confidence boost and a step in the right direction. My primary goal is to get back in the top 50. I’ve been there before and I feel like I belong there.

“I got to 17 in the world because of my Major performances, but like a few other guys I had a big comedown after the Ryder Cup, having achieved the second pinnacle of golf outside of winning a Major and so early in my career. Maybe I suffered a bit from Ryder Cupitis, as I called it.

“You see guys like Henrik Stenson who got to the top of the game, disappeared, came back, disappeared, and now he’s back where he belongs.”

Hoey followed up his 65 in the second round by carding six birdies but mixing in three bogeys in his 69 yesterday.

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