We haven’t had this feeling on a Sunday on the PGA Tour in awhile. Tiger Woods has a late tee time in the final round of an official PGA Tour event and, depending on how liberal you want to get, he’s in contention. That word can have a wide range of definitions or parameters. Tiger is seven shots off the lead, but it’s at least within the realm of possibility. It’s capable of being dreamed up given the way he’s hit the ball this week and the way things can turn suddenly at a PGA National course overflowing with hazards and penalty strokes.
Tiger is tied for 11th after 54 holes of the Honda Classic. It’s a remarkable accomplishment, really. That would be a failure in a previous era of his career, which may be the greatest of all time. But now now. Not nine rounds into a comeback after four back surgeries an almost three years off the grid. The expectations needed recalibration but they’re slowly rising again after just a handful of rounds in this 2018 PGA Tour season.
They’re rising because of the way Tiger looks, not so much the scores or the T11 place on the leaderboard. Woods is swinging in a way he hasn’t in years, getting through the ball with blistering speed and launching bombs well in excess of 300 yards.
You obviously need much more than speed and a driver to be competitive on the PGA Tour. But Tiger was at such a disadvantage in those areas, because he was in pain, that it trickled into everything else and just made prior comebacks a complete mess.
Beyond the speed, Woods has been stuffing it close the past two days. The irons seem dialed in and he’s looked much sharper than last week at Riviera, where he said his distances were all off. The greens, from accounts on the ground, are in horrible shape this week. So putting becomes a crapshoot. But if Tiger does get some putts to fall, maybe he posts a 65 or 66 and hopes the wind blows away the chances of the guys he’s chasing. The odds are heavily against it but he got close to that lead on Saturday, and he can do so again on Sunday.
That we’re even considering it is wild at this early stage and should make Sunday must-watch. Woods will go with Sam Burns, last year’s college player of the year, at 12:45 p.m. ET. Burns was born just a month before Tiger turned pro in 1996. He’s got loads of talent as evidenced by his monster college and amateur career, but this is an entirely new stage. The age difference makes for a cool pairing.
Here’s the full tee sheet for Sunday’s final round at the Honda Classic:
Off No. 1 tee:
- 7:57 a.m.: Martin Piller, Jonathan Randolph
- 8:06 a.m.: Ollie Schniederjans, Shane Lowry
- 8:15 a.m.: Harold Varner III, Martin Flores
- 8:24 a.m.: Jimmy Walker, Vaughn Taylor
- 8:33 a.m.: Andrew Novak, Tyrone Van Aswegen
- 8:42 a.m.: Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Joel Dahmen
- 8:51 a.m.: Chris Kirk, Rory McIlroy
- 9 a.m.: Jhonattan Vegas, Mackenzie Hughes
- 9:09 a.m.: Corey Conners, William McGirt
- 9:18 a.m.: J.B. Holmes, Camilo Villegas
- 9:27 a.m.: Michael Kim, Derek Fathauer
- 9:36 a.m.: Scott Brown, Lucas Glover
- 9:45 a.m.: Ben Crane, Rafa Cabrera-Bello
- 9:54 a.m.: Alex Cejka, Anirban Lahiri
- 10:03 a.m.: Michael Thompson, Greg Chalmers
- 10:12 a.m.: Morgan Hoffmann, Troy Merritt
- 10:21 a.m.: Matt Every, Chris Stroud
- 10:30 a.m.: Sergio Garcia, Nick Watney
- 10:39 a.m.: Tyler Duncan, Roberto Diaz
- 10:48 a.m.: Keegan Bradley, Aaron Wise
- 10:57 a.m.: Gary Woodland, Stewart Cink
- 11:06 a.m.: Ryan Moore, C.T. Pan
- 11:15 a.m.: Brian Harman, Scott Stallings
- 11:25 a.m.: Dominic Bozzelli, Russell Henley
- 11:35 a.m.: Jim Furyk, Peter Malnati
- 11:45 a.m.: Emiliano Grillo, Patrick Rodgers
- 11:55 a.m.: Harris English, John Huh
- 12:05 p.m.: Tom Lovelady, Adam Scott
- 12:15 p.m.: Scott Piercy, Adam Schenk
- 12:25 p.m.: Jason Dufner, Ben Martin
- 12:35 p.m.: Thomas Pieters, Byeong Hun An
- 12:45 p.m.: Sam Burns, Tiger Woods
- 12:55 p.m.: Dylan Frittelli, Hudson Swafford
- 1:05 p.m.: Daniel Berger, Rory Sabbatini
- 1:15 p.m.: Kelly Kraft, Louis Oosthuizen
- 1:25 p.m.: Jamie Lovemark, Alex Noren
- 1:35 p.m.: Webb Simpson, Tommy Fleetwood
- 1:45 p.m.: Luke List, Justin Thomas