Tiger Woods was alone on the far end of the practice green at The Grove in Chandler's Cross, England, a small village north of London, as daylight faded yesterday, his competition already gone in more ways than one.
He rapped three putts at a time, exasperated as each one slid by the cup, listening to coach Hank Haney offer instruction as some 500 fans stood six-deep behind the railing to watch Woods try to fix a balky putting stroke.
And this was after he made eagle on the final hole to stretch his lead to six shots in the
``The guy never ceases to amaze me," caddie Steve Williams said.
Despite missing a half-dozen putts inside 12 feet, Woods holed a 35-foot eagle putt on the 18th hole for a 4-under-par 67 that demoralized the 60-man field at this World Golf Championship and left him one round away from his sixth consecutive PGA Tour victory.
Woods finished at 19-under 194, putting him six shots clear of Adam Scott, who had a bogey-free 65.
Jim Furyk played with Woods in a far different capacity than a week ago in the Ryder Cup. They were partners all three days of practice at The K Club and in all four team matches, but competitors at The Grove. Furyk made 16 pars and two birdies for a 69, but wound up losing ground and finished seven shots behind.
And it could have been an even bigger gap.
``I hit it far better than I did the first two days and made absolutely nothing," Woods said. ``It was a struggle on the greens all day. I kept telling myself, `Just keep hanging in there.' I had two par 5s to play, and if I could play the par 5s at 2 under par, I'd be just fine. I actually did one better."
He needed a little luck. His tee shot on the 567-yard closing hole went to the left, about a yard from the gallery ropes. But because fans have been leaning into the rope all week to get a better view, the 6-inch grass was tamped down toward the green, giving Woods a perfect lie. With a slight breeze helping, he hit 5-wood from 283 yards that hopped onto the front of the green.
Woods is 37-3 on the PGA Tour (43-5 worldwide) when he has at least a share of the lead going into the final round.
Brett Quigley of Barrington, R.I., playing in his first World Golf Championship event, shot 67 and was at 201, along with Furyk (69). Stewart Cink shot 70 and was at 11-under 202.
PGA -- D.J. Trahan shook off a double bogey to maintain a two-stroke lead in the Southern Farm Bureau Classic with a 1-under 71 at Madison, Miss.
Trahan has a 12-under 204 total after opening with rounds of 65 and 68. Two-time US Open champion Lee Janzen (67) was second, and Daniel Chopra (68) and Brad Faxon (72) followed at 9 under.
Champions -- Andy Bean remained in position for his first Champions Tour victory, shooting a 2-under 70 (11-under 133) to take a two-stroke lead into the final round of the Greater Hickory Classic in Conover, N.C.
Allen Doyle, a native of Norwood, Mass., and an 11-time Champions Tour winner, is second after a 66.