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Tiger Woods’s Challenge to finish tournament nearly complete in event Scottie Scheffler leads

Heading into the final day, Tiger Woods has followed through on his intention to play all four rounds of his Hero World Challenge.Mike Ehrmann/Getty

Scottie Scheffler made two eagles Saturday in his round of 7-under 65 that gave the No. 1 player in the world another chance to win the Hero World Challenge. Tiger Woods will be around at the end, but only to hand out the trophy in Nassau, Bahamas.

Scheffler was never seriously out of position until the end of his round. He saved par on the 16th hole but dropped his lone shot on the 18th at Albany, giving him a three-shot lead over Matt Fitzpatrick, who also had a 65.

Contending at Woods’s tournament in the Bahamas is nothing new for Scheffler — he has been runner-up to Viktor Hovland each of the last two years. Woods being out of the mix is also not unusual, mainly because he typically is recovering from injuries.

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This is his fifth time playing in the Bahamas, and only once has he finished within 10 shots of the winner. This year figures to be no exception. Woods was over par on the back nine for the third straight round, having to settle for a 71 that left him 16 shots behind Scheffler.

Scottie Scheffler holds a three-shot lead after firing a 65.Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images,

Woods is coming back from another surgery that kept him out for nearly eight months. Sunday would be the first time he plays a 72-hole tourney since February. He said he has experienced no soreness in his ankle.

“I still have game,” Woods said. “It’s whether or not the body can do it.

Scheffler was at 16-under 200. Fitzpatrick, who won the Dunhill Links Championship the week after the Ryder Cup, birdied his last two holes and will play with Scheffler in the final group.

Justin Thomas had a 68 and was five shots behind. Jordan Spieth started the third round tied with Scheffler and fell back quickly with a drive into the bushes on the par-5 third that led to a penalty drop and a three-shot swing — Spieth made bogey, Scheffler holed a 15-foot eagle putt.

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Spieth shot 71 and was six shots back.

Scheffler has been the best ball-striker in golf in 2023, off the tee and into the greens, a dominant year with the exception of his putting. He began working with putting coach Phil Kenyon a few months ago and is looking sharper. All his scoring putts were outside 12 feet.

“I feel as if I’m much more clear in what I need to be working on and a lot of that has to do with how I’m set up over the ball,” Scheffler said. “When I’m set up in the right position, then I feel like my mechanics are really good. That’s what I’m focused on.”

Australia's Min Woo Lee sits in a tie atop the Australian Open leaderboard.Mark Metcalfe/Getty

Australian Open — Min Woo Lee (70) made birdie at the 18th hole to move back to the top of the leaderboard at 13 under alongside Rikuya Hoshino (65) after the third round of the men’s and women’s Australia Open in Sydney, where a two-venue format is in play. Lee and Hoshino hold a one-shot lead over Alex Fitzpatrick (66) and American Patrick Rodgers (68).

Defending champion Ashleigh Buhai (67) birdied the first four holes on her way to a 67 and the lead in the women’s field at 12 under, three shots clear of Jiyai Shin (72).

European tour — Home players took over the South African Open Championship in the third round as Jayden Schaper (67) and Ryan van Velzen (70) claimed a share of the lead at 9 under in Johannesburg, a stroke clear of Louis De Jager (70).

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American Johannes Veerman (72) was in 18th place entering the final round at 3 under.

Boston Globe Today: Sports | December 1, 2023
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