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Zach Johnson takes 1-shot lead over Woods

Tiger Woods lines up a shot from the rough to the fifth fairway during the third round of the Chevron World Challenge golf tournament at Sherwood Country Club, Saturday, Dec. 3, 2011, in Thousand Oaks, Calif. Tiger Woods lines up a shot from the rough to the fifth fairway during the third round of the Chevron World Challenge golf tournament at Sherwood Country Club, Saturday, Dec. 3, 2011, in Thousand Oaks, Calif. (AP Photo/Jason Redmond)
By Doug Ferguson
AP Golf Writer / December 3, 2011
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THOUSAND OAKS, Calif.—Zach Johnson needed something special to track down Tiger Woods in the Chevron World Challenge. Holing a 7-iron from the 18th fairway for eagle did the trick Saturday.

Johnson's shot from 163 yards landed near the cup and spun into the hole, giving him a 4-under 68 and a one-shot lead over Woods going into the final round at Sherwood Country Club.

It was the second eagle on the back nine for Johnson, who also chipped in on the par-5 11th.

Woods had the 36-hole lead for the second straight tournament, and for the second straight time failed to break par in the third round. He had three bogeys on the par 5s and had to settle for a 73, though he had few complaints.

The wind was strong and chilly from the start, and rarely stayed the same direction very long. With a wedge in his hand, Woods went some 40 feet long on the second hole that led to a three-putt bogey. Another wedge on the par-5 13th sailed over the green and left a pitch he had no chance to get close.

Both players ran into trouble on the par-5 16th.

Johnson was playing in the group ahead of Woods, felt the breeze in his face and tried to hammer a driver that went left of the grass and into the gallery. He tried to clear a creek and went into the trees to the right before pitching out and taking a bogey.

Woods was in the fairway, but says a gust took his fairway metal too far right and into a hazard. He thought about trying to hit out behind a pair of rocks before choosing to take a penalty drop, and he also made bogey.

The difference was how they finished.

Johnson three-putted the 17th for another bogey, then drilled his 7-iron at the flag on the 18th for the most unlikely finish to his round. The eagle put him at 8-under 208.

Woods had to settle for pars.

K.J. Choi, who took a double bogey on the second hole, recovered for a 72 and was three shots behind. Everyone else was at least five shots behind, including Matt Kuchar, who played with Woods and had a 74.

The wind was so confounding that the final group was still on the 16th green after four hours, nearly two holes behind the group ahead of them.

Johnson, a former Masters champion, saw his streak end this year of four straight seasons winning on the PGA Tour. The Chevron World Challenge counts toward the world ranking, but is not official for the tour. He still wouldn't mind using it as a springboard for the next season, much like Tom Lehman did in the early days of this event, and Jim Furyk did in 2009.

For Woods, going from a three-shot lead to a one-shot deficit was not the end of the world.

He felt as though he played as well as he had the first two days, without having much luck with the wind. And for a guy who has gone two years without winning, the hardest part of hoisting a trophy is getting a chance.

He at least has that.

"Even though I made three bogeys on the par 5s, I played well," Woods said. "I'm right there with a chance."

Woods still had his three-shot lead when he chipped in from behind the fourth green for birdie. The wind was at its worst on the sixth hole, gusting hard with leaves scattered about the fairway. Woods felt it at his back and to the right, yet as the ball was in the air, it came against him from the left. He came up well short, chipped 7 feet by the hole and lipped out.

Hunter Mahan was the first player to make a run at Woods, going out in 33 and tying for the lead briefly after Woods had a three-putt bogey on the par-3 eighth.

Woods seemed to steady himself with a beautiful flop shot on the 10th that ran up the bank and trickled back 4 feet from the cup, and a solid approach to 18 feet for a two-putt birdie on the 11th.

But he went long of the 13th, turning a birdie hole into a bogey. He made a mess of the 16th with his penalty shot. And he had nothing to match an eagle from the fairway by Johnson on the final hole.

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