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Tiger retains 2-stroke World Challenge lead

  • The Sports Network
  • Published Friday, Dec. 6, 2013, at 8:04 p.m.
  • Updated Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013, at 7:12 p.m.

Thousand Oaks, CA (SportsNetwork.com) - Tournament host Tiger Woods shot even- par 72 at blustery Sherwood Country Club on Saturday to retain his 2-stroke lead heading into the final round of the World Challenge.

Woods, who has won this event five times and most recently in 2011, sits at 11-under-par 205 through 54 holes.

"It's hard, the wind is dancing all over the place," Woods said in a televised interview.

Zach Johnson played alongside Woods and also managed a 72 to remain in second place at 9-under 207, while Bubba Watson fired a 69 and moved into third place at 7-under.

Matt Kuchar shot 76 and dropped into fourth place at 4-under, one shot ahead of Webb Simpson, who shot 69 to grab solo fifth.

Defending champion Graeme McDowell (75) and Jason Day (70) share sixth at minus-2.

On Friday, Woods cruised into the lead with a course-record tying 62, but scoring proved significantly tougher on Saturday, as light rain in the morning gave way to swirling winds.

Johnson began the round two strokes behind Woods, but he better managed the unpredictable conditions in the early going, mixing three birdies and a bogey during his outward nine to work his way in front by the turn.

Woods converted a tap-in birdie at the second, but he tripped to bogeys at Nos. 4 and 8 to fall one stroke behind Johnson, whose lead proved short-lived.

At No. 10, Woods rolled home a birdie putt to pull even and Johnson lost ground from there, going bogey-double bogey from the 11th.

Woods didn't take full advantage, as he bogeyed Nos. 13 and 15, but the world No. 1 closed strong, nearly notching an eagle at the par-5 16th before tapping in for birdie, then draining a 10-foot birdie putt at the last to reach 11- under.

"It's so hard to pull a club," stated Woods. "Zach and I were backing off and trying to figure out something to hit out there and it's hard."

After a birdie at the 13th and a bogey at the 15th, Johnson also managed to finish strong, as he matched Woods' birdies at both the 16th and 18th, rolling home a 20-footer at the last to remain two shots back.

"You've got to commit out here at Sherwood," said Johnson. "There's too many holes with slope in degrees of yardage that you have to take into account and swirling winds that you have to pay attention to. But it's pure. The greens are as good as they come. You get it on line and you'll make it."

NOTES: Woods won here in 2001, 2004, 2006 2007 and 2011. He also owns four runner-up finishes ... There was a 1-hour frost delay in each of the first two rounds ... Johnson held a 1-stroke lead after Thursday's first round.

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