Tiger Woods is closing in on the Farmers Insurance Open Championship as the final round gets underway after a delay at Torrey Pines due to weather issues.
In the past, the tournament would be as good as over, but Woods has not won a major in a few years and has been looked at as a diminished player following his sex scandal and divorce. It appears Woods has found his stroke again at San Diego, a place he has been comfortable, winning seven career title at the course. The won on Monday would be his first at the event since 2008.
Weather has been an issue on the Tour so far this season, with play getting delayed for the second time in three weeks. Amazingly, last year there were zero fog delays on the tour after dealing with five in 2011.
"If Mother Nature doesn't cooperate, we don't have very much control over that," said Mark Russell, the tour's VP of competition. "We're going to be out here, ready to play, and see what happens."
Woods finished his day with a 17-under with 11 holes still to go and he will start off with the rest of the field at 2:10 PM ET. He showed great control over the first two rounds of play and continued that in the third, shooting 3-under 69 to build a four-shot lead after three rounds. On the fourth hole he lost the ball with his driver, but was able to recover and hit three birdies over the next seven holes to build his lead.
"All we can do tomorrow is go out and try to make him think about it a little bit and see what happens," said Nick Watney, who is one of two former winners at Torrey Pines who faced the tough task of trying to make up six shots on Woods. The other player is last year's champion Brandt Snedeker, who is six-strokes behind after going 11-under par through 13 holes.
"I've got a guy at the top of the leaderboard that doesn't like giving up leads," Snedeker said. "So I have to go catch him."
Woods will start up again on Monday on the par-3 eighth hole with CBS working their schedule to televise the finish. Watney was through eight holes, while Snedeker was through 13. Woods played a total of 25 holes on Sunday before play was suspended due to darkness.
It was a long day ... and I played well today," Woods said. "Overall, I'm very pleased that I was able to build on my lead."
The reason for the delay was due to harsh fog on Saturday, forcing everyone to sit out and play all day on Sunday. After finishing up the third round, players were able to take a break before going back out an competing. After 54 holes, Woods had a 14-under and was four shots ahead of the next player on the leaderboard
According to ESPN.com, it was the 16th time in his PGA Tour career that Woods had a 54-hole lead of at least four shots. He started out the round with some rough tee shots, but was able to recover for a birdie on number three.
After three rounds, Snedeker had to make up seven shots, which was the same thing he had to do last year while winning the tournament. According to ESPN.com, Woods is 38-2 on the PGA Tour when he has the outright lead going into the last round.
"I've got to make some more birdies," Snedeker said. "I've got a long way to go. I did a great job today of staying patient and playing good golf."
Apart from winning a U.S. Open at the course, Woods has won six other times at Torrey Pines. Another addition to that list would give him the most wins on any course in his career.
"I've driven the ball well, I've hit my irons well, and I've chipped and putted well," he said. "Well, I've hit good putts. They all haven't gone in."
Woods has been much better working off the tee this season so far and is hitting 64 percent of his fairways after making just 44 percent in 2011. Through the first three rounds in 2011, Woods was tied for 44th place.
Woods has helped erase the tough start he had to the season, when he and Rory McIlroy missed the cut in Abu Dhabi. Woods was hit with a two-shot penalty after his round for taking relief from an embedded lie on the fifth hole when the rules didn't allow for it
"As I said, I didn't play that poorly," Woods said of his short week in the Middle East. "I played well enough to be there on the weekend, and could have gotten two more rounds competitively, but I didn't really play poorly. I thought I did a lot of good things. Just wanted to continue that this week, and I have."
Even though nothing is guaranteed, Woods has an excellent record when leading after this many rounds. According to ESPN.com, Woods has a 49-4 record on the PGA Tour when he has at least a share of the 54-hole lead. The only two players to come from behind to beat him over the final 18 holes were Ed Fiori in the Quad City Classic in 1996 when Woods was a 20-year-old rookie, and Y.E. Yang in the 2009 PGA Championship a Hazeltine.
Woods has made just as many headlines on the course this week as he has off the course, as reports have come out that the star golfer is dating Olympic skier Lindsey Vonn. Vonn's representatives did not confirm the relationship, but the skier had some success on Saturday while competing in Europe, winning her second race in the span of a week after taking home a World Cup giant slalom.
The Farmers Insurance Open winner will net $1,098,000 and the television coverage of the tournament can be found on Golf Channel from 2:10 up to 4 p.m. ET, while CBS will take over and carry coverage of the end of the tournament.