Tiger Woods had his lowest score on the U.S. PGA Tour in seven months and left the Honda Classic on Saturday assured of only one thing: He will play the fourth round on Sunday.
Woods, who missed a 54-cut at Torrey Pines in his only other tour event this year, was never in serious danger of repeating that. He made seven birdies, one by chipping in from 50 feet left of the 11th green, and finished with a 5-under 65.
He was just inside the top 10 when he ended his round - more than two hours before Rory McIlroy teed off in the third round. Woods wound up in a tie for 17th, seven shots behind.
"Wish I could have gotten one of the last two coming in - would have been nice," said Woods, who missed birdie putts of 15 feet on the last two holes. "I didn't hit the ball very well yesterday; just kind of grinded it out. Today I struck the ball well and made some putts."
Woods matched the best score of the third round, though all five of them were before the leaders teed off. The wind began to pick up in the early afternoon.
Even so, it was his best round on the tour since a 61 in the second round of a runaway victory at Firestone. Then again, this is only Woods' seventh tour event since then, and he did have a 63 in Turkey and a 62 at his 18-man charity event in California in December.
He still looked sloppy at times. He made bogey on the 395-yard fourth hole with a drive so far right that he had to lay up from deep rough. He dropped another shot on the ninth when he went from the rough to well right of the green, leaving him no chance to get it closer than 15 feet.
But that was his last bogey, and he seemed to gain confidence toward the end of his round until three good looks at birdie failed to drop.