La Jolla, California: Tiger Woods strengthened his hold on the Farmers Insurance Open on Sunday, carving out a six-shot lead with 11 holes to play at the Torrey Pines course where he has won seven titles.
Seeking the 75th victory of his legendary career, Woods fired a three-under par 69 in a third-round that was wiped out on Saturday by fog, then birdied three of the first seven holes in his fourth round before darkness halted play.
Woods was on 14-under par 202 after 54 holes, then birdied the par-3 third, par-four fourth and par-5 sixth before a par at the seventh at dusk left him on 17-under at a course where he has won six PGA events and the 2008 US Open.
“I drove it great in the morning. I drove it on a string all day,” Woods said. “I’ve got 11 holes to play and I’ve got to go out and play them well.”
Americans Nick Watney and Brandt Snedeker shared second at 11-under with Canada’s Brad Fritsch fourth two shots further back. Snedeker had five holes to play. Watney had twice as many. Fritsch had 11 to finish.
No other rivals were within nine strokes of Woods, who could beat his record victory margin at the $6.1 million (Dh22.4 million) event, an eight-stroke triumph in 2008.
Woods has been the sole leader of an event 41 times after 54 holes and won 39 of those tournaments.
Past success at Torrey Pines has been a precursor to strong seasons from Woods, a 14-time major champion who, at 37, hopes to close the gap on the career record 18 major titles won by Jack Nicklaus after seasons diminished by injuries and the aftermath of an infamous sex scandal.
A victory on Monday would put Woods seven shy of Sam Snead’s all-time PGA title mark of 82. The Farmers would be the third event Woods has won seven times in his career, joining tournaments at Bay Hill and Firestone and all one shy of Snead’s PGA record eight career wins at Greensboro.
Woods wore a grey sweater in cool conditions for the fourth round start but said he would don his familiar red shirt for Monday’s concluding holes.
Defending champion Snedeker, who rallied from seven strokes down to win the event last year, birdied three of the first six holes to charge again, but was only one-under over the next seven holes while Woods pulled away.
Watney’s charge fizzled as well. He birdied three of the first four holes and then scored four pars before darkness fell.