Thousand Oaks, Calif. • After a day of so much uncertainty about where the ball was going, Tiger Woods landed in a place where the outcome is rarely in doubt.
He was in the lead.
Woods survived a rough round of swirling wind at Sherwood on Saturday with two birdies on his last three holes. That enabled him to salvage an even-par 72 and maintain his two-shot lead over Zach Johnson going into the final round of the World Challenge.
Woods' round featured a tee shot into the water, a three-putt from 6 feet and a long delay on the 18th fairway as he tried to figure out which way the wind was blowing. He took a little off an 8-iron when he felt the wind switch yet again and holed a 12-foot birdie putt.
"I'm pleased at having the lead not real pleased with the way I putted today," Woods said. "I left a few out there today."
But he wasn't alone.
The average score was just under 73, and everyone ran into problems somewhere along the way, particularly on the 15th, a par 3 that played to an average score of 4.17. Johnson made two double bogeys on par 3s on the back nine, and didn't feel as though he hit a poor shot on either hole. It was simply a matter of getting the wind to cooperate.
"I didn't take myself out of it," said Johnson, who also birdied two of the last three holes for a 72.
Woods was at 11-under 205, two shots ahead of Johnson, just like he started the day.
There are 18 holes to go, and Woods has a 48-5 lead worldwide when he has the outright lead going into Sunday. He has won all four times with the lead this year, and the last time he gave up a lead on Sunday was at Sherwood in 2010, when Graeme McDowell came from four shots behind and won in a playoff.
It can be done, and two shots can be erased in one hole in conditions like this.
Woods is trying to end his year with a sixth title, which would be the ninth time he's done that in his career. What began as an elite field of 18 players all of them from the top 30 in the world ranking has effectively been whittled to three barring a late charge from deep in the pack.
Bubba Watson was within one shot of the lead briefly until a three-putt bogey on the 18th, and two late birdies by Woods. Watson had a 69 and was four shots behind. No one else was within six shots of Woods.
Tiger Woods -11
Zach Johnson -9
Bubba Watson -7
Matt Kuchar -4