List takes 1-shot lead at Honda Classic with Woods 7 back

AP
Published 6:06 p.m. ET Feb. 24, 2018 | Updated 8:09 p.m. ET Feb. 24, 2018

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. (AP) — Luke List can understand why he might be overlooked in the Honda Classic, even with a shot at his first PGA Tour victory.

He felt that Saturday while taking the lead.

List and Jamie Lovemark were trading birdies and keeping clean cards on the front nine at PGA National before an audience of no more than a few dozen people. Everyone else was busy watching Tiger Woods try to stay close enough to contention.

“I know I’ll be an underdog going against Justin Thomas and guys like that, which is fine,” List said. “It’s kind of nice having Tiger in the field now because he takes all the attention off everybody else, so you can just kind of go out and do your own thing.”

His thing was strong enough at PGA National. List finished with a pair of birdies around his lone bogey for a 4-under 66, giving him a one-shot lead over Thomas and Webb Simpson. List was at 7-under 203.

Woods made bogeys on the notorious par 3s on the back nine, and finished with a birdie for a 69. It was the first time he broke 70 on the PGA Tour in the 12 rounds since he first stepped away with a series of back surgeries after the 2015 Wyndham Championship.

And while only 10 players were ahead of him, Woods still was seven shots behind.

“I’ve got a shot going into tomorrow,” Woods said.

Thomas was never far away from the lead, and the final hour changed everything. The PGA champion had three birdies over his last five holes for a 65 to match the low round of the toughest tournament this year on the PGA Tour.

Particularly impressive was that two of those birdies were on the par-3 15th and par-3 17th, the second- and third-toughest holes at PGA National on Saturday. He essentially hit the same shot, a cut 6-iron into the wind to right pins and made 15-footers.

In between those par 3s was a tough par save when he hit out of a fairway bunker, into the wind and over the water to the back right green. He played a lofted pitch to 7 feet and holed it for par, a big improvement from the previous day when he four-putted the 16th for a double bogey.

“I felt like if I parred those holes in, I would have a great chance,” Thomas said. “But making those birdies, it will definitely give me a better chance.”

Simpson, the former U.S. Open champion who has not won in more than four years, played bogey-free for a 66, a card kept clean by a remarkable bunker save with an awkward stance behind the 15th green.

List has the lead, though it probably won’t feel like one with six players separated by only three shots. Tommy Fleetwood of England holed out from the fourth fairway for eagle and finished strong with a birdie on the 16th and an eagle on the final hole with an approach that rolled out to 8 feet. He shot a 67 and was at 205 along with Jamie Lovemark, whose round was spoiled by one shot.

Lovemark holed a chip for birdie from just off the 12th green to become the first player to reach 7 under. On the next hole from the back of the 13th green, his chip from 70 feet broke toward the middle of the cup, dove into the left side and spun out.

But his 7-iron into the wind and over the water on the 15th ballooned in the air and never had a chance, leading to double bogey.

Alex Noren of Sweden, who lost in a playoff at Torrey Pines, hit 3-wood that rolled out to 4 feet from the pin on No. 18 for an eagle and a 65. He was three behind.

List has enormous talent who is just starting to get the most out of it. After growing up in northern Georgia and playing at Vanderbilt, he chose to move to California about five years ago to work with Jamie Mulligan at Virginia Country Club in Long Beach.

The only other time he had at least a share of the 54-hole lead was at the 2016 Sanderson Farms Championship in Mississippi, held the same week as the World Golf Championship in Shanghai. He closed with a 70 and lost out to a 65 by Cody Gribble.

He says he is understanding his tendencies in his game, and mainly has learned not to press. Being consumed with a leaderboard might not be an issue, not with so many players in the mix on a golf course that can strike at any moment.

“I think until you get to 15, it really doesn’t matter to a certain degree,” List said. “I’ll try to do my own thing for most of the day, and then if there’s something I need to do in the last four or five holes, then probably take a look.”

Woods has been progressively better every day at PGA National, except for one hole — a double bogey each of the last two days — that slowed him. Saturday was an exception. He made his two bogeys on the notorious par 3s on the back nine, but he putted for birdie 14 out of 18 holes, and only one of those putts was longer than 25 feet.

“Probably the highest score I could have shot today,” Woods said.

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Is Tiger really using an M3 with Twistface? – theBionicGolfer

Like every golf fan, I’ve been enthralled by Tiger’s comeback this year. Sometimes I’ve fast forwarded through recorded PGA tour play on Sky sports just to watch his shots, even though the fields at Torrey, Rivera and this week at Honda have been stellar. He simply moves the needle like no one else.

Watching his tees shots are particularly exciting as you have no idea what’s going to happen. It could be 350 down the middle or 100s of yards offline. Since Torrey Pines he’s been wielding Taylormade’s latest driver offering – the M3 . This got me thinking, is Tiger really using an M3 with twistface technology?

Woods is famously pernickety when it comes to his equipment. He’s used the same shafts in his irons since the beginning of his career. Another illustration of this is that he’s yet to transition in to any Taylormade irons since switching into the company last year. Instead he wields his  ‘Tgr’ blades made by Nike before they exited the hardware industry.

This pernickety nature suggests it’s hard to believe that Tiger is using an M3 with twistface technology. This tech claims to dramatically alter the face by bending the toe open to limit the damage of toed hooks and closing the heel to prevent short spinny shots to the right. It fundamentally changes the bulge and roll faces which have been on drivers since the 19th century.

Surely Tiger would refuse a face which is different to any driver he’s ever used in his career if he refuses to switch out iron shafts? He’s made a very good living off bulge and roll! Moreover, surely pros want consistency from year to year in how they hit their drivers?

Rick Shiels in his review of the M3 noted how twistface could hurt players who use bulge and roll to shape their shots. These pros play for the added draw that comes from hitting a ball from the toe and vice versa on the heel with the fade. I remember from a clinic given by Tiger in the early 2000s, which is visible on Youtube, that he shapes the ball this way. Therefore, it seems highly unlikely he would put this tech in play.

There were always rumours when Tiger was at Nike that he used Miura or Mizuno blades stamped with the swoosh in tournament play.Is it therefore beyond comprehension that he’s using his own version of M3?bThat’s why I’m throwing this question out there to you all. Do you think tiger is using a genuine M3 with twistface or a customised driver with M3 branding?

Tiger Woods continues to progress entering final round of Honda Classic

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. — After putting himself in contention entering the weekend, Tiger Woods shot his lowest round on the PGA Tour since 2015 Saturday in Round 3 of the Honda Classic.

Woods posted a 1-under 69 and through much of the round was relevant not because of who he is but because of what he was doing. He went on a ballstriking tear from holes No. 7-11, giving himself decent birdie look at each of them and reminding everyone what he can do when healthy and locked in. 

He managed only one birdie in that stretch, but the tee shots were so pure and the approaches so dialed in that it seems only a matter of time before Woods will be able to post a strong number.

“I’m making some tweaks in my golf swing, but also starting to understand what this body can do,” Woods said. “It’s not like it used to be. Those angles are gone. So I’ve had to make a little bit of adjustments here and there and I think I’ve done that, and I think I’ve done a pretty good job of just kind of gradually building it together. You know, today was the best I’ve hit it and I thought (Friday) was pretty good, but today was a little better.”

Jason Dufner, who shot even-par 70 in the same group, said he played with Tiger several times at Medalist Golf Club in Hobe Sound, Fla., before Woods’ season debut at the Farmers Insurance Open. Maybe that’s why he didn’t seem too surprised with Woods’ ballstriking Saturday.

“I don’t think he’s that far away,” Dufner said. “Probably won’t take him that long if he’s healthy. He’s a smart guy, he’ll figure out what it takes to play good golf.”

We’re still in the very early stages of the latest comeback and the rust is evident at times. Woods made bogey at the par-3 15th and bogey at the par-3 17th, missing the green by a healthy margin in both instances. Yet he nearly pulled off a ridiculous flop shot over a bunker from the left side rough at No. 15, his ball landing on the fringe of the green but never releasing.

“That would have been stupid good,” Dufner said.

Woods still has an outside shot to win but sits seven shots off the lead at even par and is T-11 entering Sunday’s final round.  But he’s hitting it so well he could easily be at or near the top of the leaderboard.

Woods ranks No. 2 in the field in proximity to the hole on approach shots through three rounds. He’s working the ball in all the right places but hasn’t had a ton of luck with the putter, though he did have another huge par-save Saturday with a 16-foot make at No. 12.

“Highest score I could have possibly shot today,” Woods said. “I really hit it good. I really had nice control of it today. … Overall, I feel very pleased to shoot something in the red and give myself a chance going into tomorrow. We’ll see what happens.”

Keep in mind this is just Woods’ third start of the season and he’s doing this on one of the toughest courses players will see all year. And he’s scored better than all but 14 guys in the field, almost all of which are younger and playing on a much more consistent basis.

Woods is starting to get more comfortable with his new swing, he’s starting to get more consistent off the tee, and overall the Honda Classic is beginning to feel like the start of something big.

Tiger Woods carded a sub-70 score on PGA Tour for first time in 917 days

Tiger Woods may not yet be in tournament-winning form, but he’s looking more and more like one of the best players in the world once again. One week after missing the cut at Riviera, Woods is in line for a top-10 finish at the Honda Classic, and he put together a solid round Saturday that had the potential to be special.

Woods’ biggest problems over his last few starts have been his accuracy off the tee and his ability to make putts, and though Tiger was solid off the tee in his third round, he left too many birdies on the table with his putter. Woods led the field in proximity to the hole, but only carded three birdies Saturday.

Bogeys at 15 and 17 slightly spoiled what would have been great round, but Woods bounced back with a birdie at 18 to leave himself at even-par for the tournament.

Woods carded a 69, his first sub-70 score on tour since 2015.

PGA National is too tough of a course for Woods to make a huge run Sunday, and as he sits seven shots back of leader Luke List, a win is likely out of the question barring some epic collapses late on Sunday. Still, the 14-time major champion is looking better than ever as the Masters nears.

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Honda Classic Leaders Face Daunting Final Day

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – The winner may need a cut man in his corner more than he needs a caddie on his bag in Sunday’s finish to the Honda Classic.

Smelling salts might come in handy, too.

“It just feels like you are getting punched in the face every single hole here,” Daniel Berger said of the test PGA National’s Champion Course offers. “Every single shot is so hard.”

Final rounds have been especially rough and tumble since the Honda Classic moved to PGA National in 2007.

That usually makes Sundays here as much about who can figuratively take a punch as who can throw one.

Luke List will have his jaw tested after taking sole possession of the lead Saturday with a second consecutive round of 4-under-par 66, but he can take comfort in the fact that punishment is doled plentifully around here.

“Just realizing that everyone is facing the same obstacles out there is huge,” List said. “You’re not alone out there, if you make a bogey or a bad swing here or there.”

At 7-under 203, List is one shot ahead of a pair of major championship winners, Justin Thomas (65) and Webb Simpson (66). He is two ahead of Tommy Fleetwood (67), the reigning European Tour Player of the Year, and Jamie Lovemark (68).

List, 33, is seeking his first PGA Tour title in his 104th start. He will have to hold off some heavyweights, including Tiger Woods (69), who is seven shots back but feeling like he has a chance again. Woods closed with a 62 here six years ago when he finished second to Rory McIlroy.

“You never know what can happen the last few holes here,” Woods said. “A lot of things can happen and have happened in the past.”

Amen.


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Crazy things have happened here.

Three years ago, Padraig Harrington was five shots down with eight holes to play and won. He made two double bogeys in the final round but ended up beating Berger in a playoff.

Berger, by the way, was nine shots back entering the final round.

That was the year Ian Poulter took a share of lead into Sunday, hit five balls in the water and still finished just a shot out of the playoff.

Last year, Rickie Fowler made four bogeys and a double bogey in the final round and still won by four shots.

List will have a heavyweight playing alongside him in the final pairing, with 24-year-old Justin Thomas looking to claim his eighth PGA Tour title. Thomas was last season’s PGA Tour Player of the Year.

List has never held a 54-hole lead in a PGA Tour event.

“You guys build up certain players,” List said. “I know I’ll be an underdog going against Justin Thomas and guys like that, which is fine.”

There is some inspiration for List in what Ted Potter Jr. did two weeks at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. Potter, largely unknown even though he already had a PGA Tour title to his credit, held off stars Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson and Jason Day in the final round to win. 

Thomas earned the right to play alongside List in the final pairing Sunday with his 65, which equaled the low round of the tournament.

Thomas makes his home in nearby Jupiter and knows the punishment the Champion Course can dish out.

“It’s a difficult course,” Thomas said. “If you let it get to you, it can be frustrating, but if you go into it understanding and realizing it’s difficult, you just kind of embrace it and deal with it.”

Thomas played the Bear Trap’s trio of daunting holes (Nos. 15-17) in 2 under on Saturday. He birdied the 15th and 17th holes.

Fleetwood got in contention Saturday with a pair of eagles. He’s a four-time European Tour winner.

“I would love to get my first win on the PGA Tour this week,” he said. “It’s just great to be out here. It’s great to be playing on courses like this that are such a test of every part of your game.”

Alex Noren, a nine-time European Tour winner, is also seeking his first PGA Tour title. He is three shots back. He lost in a playoff to Day at the Farmers Insurance Open last month.

Though this is just Noren’s second start at the Honda Classic, he knows how wildly momentum can swing on the Champion Course. He shot 65 Saturday after shooting 75 on Friday.

“I’m a few back, but anything can happen,” Noren said.

That’s the theme around here.