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Golf roundup

Third-round 70 lands Tiger Woods in middle of the pack

SAN DIEGO, CA - JANUARY 27: Tiger Woods walks down the fairway on the 14th hole during the third round of the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines South on January 27, 2018 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images
Tiger Woods struggled to find the fairway in the third round of the Farmers Insurance Open but managed to shoot a 2-uner 70.

Tiger Woods’s first tee shot Saturday was so off the mark that a course marshal immediately started waving frantically to the left with his paddle.

That’s how it went for seven straight holes for Woods in the third round of the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines in San Diego.

Left rough. Left of the green on a par 3. Right rough. Right rough. Right rough again. Left rough. Greenside bunker on a par-3.

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Woods, who started on No. 10 on the South Course, finally found the fairway with a 3-wood on his eighth hole, the par-4, 442-yard 17th.

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Remarkably, despite so many erratic shots, Woods still managed a 2-under-par 70 in his first weekend round on the PGA Tour in 29 months. He was in the middle of the pack going into the final round.

Alex Noren of Sweden two-putted for birdie on the final hole for a 3-under 69 that gave him a one-shot lead over Ryan Palmer. Noren has nine European Tour victories and is No. 19 in the world. This is his first 54-hole lead on the PGA Tour.

Palmer struggled after building a two-shot lead with a 45-foot eagle putt on the par-5 15th. Jon Rahm, the defending champion who needs to win to reach No. 1 in the world, took double bogey on the last hole for a 75 and fell four shots behind.

Noren was at 11-under 205.

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The 42-year-old Woods described his round as ‘‘gross,’’ although his short game and putting bailed him out for a decent score.

This is only his second PGA Tour event since he tied for 10th in the Wyndham Championship in August 2015. He had two back surgeries that fall, and fusion surgery on his lower back last April.

‘‘I don’t know about coming together, but it was a struggle out there,’’ he said. ‘‘I didn’t hit it worth a darn all day. I was really struggling out there trying to find anything that was resemblance of a golf swing. But I was scoring, I was chipping, putting, I was grinding. I was trying to miss the ball on the correct sides because I know I didn’t have it, trying to give myself the correct angles and I did that most of the day. Then I had to rely on my touch, my feel, my putting and it’s been good all week.’’

If he didn’t have such a good short game, ‘‘It would have been snowing on me,’’ Woods said, using a euphemism for shooting in the 80s. ‘‘It would have been snowing.’’

And if he'd have hit more fairways?

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‘‘It would be in the 60s. I don’t think I would be contending right now, but it would be in the 60s.’’

Woods gave his back a good workout in the rough. However, other than an exaggerated contortion after chopping his second shot of the day out of the deep rough and into a trap, he didn’t show much frustration. Maybe that’s because he saved par on his first hole and then, after a bogey on 11, had two straight birdies.

Woods has hit only six fairways since Thursday. He said the problem isn’t with his driver. ‘‘It’s just my swing. My feels are different. I'm struggling with my feels out there, hitting certain shots. Some of my go-to shots aren’t there. Some of my shots I like to hit under certain circumstances aren’t there, either. The only thing I have is my short game and my heart and that got me through today.’’

Woods, who grew up some 100 miles north of here in Orange County, has been drawing a big, boisterous gallery. He’s won this tournament seven times, and Torrey Pines was the site of his dramatic 2008 US Open win plus a World Junior Championship as a teenager.

Woods’s problems off the tee continued on his back nine. On the par-3 third, which has a gorgeous view of the Pacific Ocean, Woods’s 7-iron bounced off the green and down the hill. He had a remarkable chip to 3 feet and saved par.On the par-4 fourth, which parallels the ocean, his tee shot went left and a course marshal waved both of his orange paddles to the left. Woods rallied and nearly holed a chip for birdie and tapped in for par.

Woods, who grew up some 100 miles north of here in Orange County, has been drawing a big, boisterous gallery. He’s won this tournament seven times, and Torrey Pines also was the site of his dramatic U.S. Open win in 2008 plus a World Junior Championship as a teenager.

‘‘I haven’t had people yelling like that in a while,’’ he said. ‘‘Southern California’s always been near and dear to my heart. It’s where I grew up and so many of the people that I haven’t seen in a long time have come out this week, which is fantastic. It’s great to have a hometown feel.

‘‘I've played well here over the course of my career and I think a lot of these fans just want to see some of that. And trust me, I'm trying.’’

On Sunday, ‘‘It would be nice to shoot something in the 60s,’’ he said. ‘‘I would like to do something a little bit easier than I did today, hit some more fairways, more greens, make it more conventional. But hey, I'll have another day in this whole process of trying to build my way back up and I'm looking forward to it.’’

LPGA — Brooke Henderson birdied the par-5 18th hole and had a one-stroke lead over top-ranked Shanshan Feng in the suspended second round of the wind-swept Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic.

Henderson shot an even-par 73 to get to 5 under overall after two rounds and three days at the Ocean Club Golf Course in the event cut to 54 holes after wind wiped out play most of Friday.

‘‘It was windy today,’’ Henderson said. ‘‘I feel like overall Britt [caddie and sister] and I did a really good job again just calculating numbers and negotiating the wind as best we could. There was a couple of bogeys I would like to take back, but having four birdies is really good.’’

Feng had nine holes left when play was suspended because of darkness.

On her last hole, the Chinese star birdied the 18th.

‘‘I know this is only the first tournament of the year, but normally I’m pretty good in the wind,’’ Feng said. ‘‘It’s not really bothering me.’’

Henderson began the second round with a bogey Friday morning just before play was called for the day. The 20-year-old Canadian dropped another stroke on the par-3 third, birdied the par-4 sixth and played the back nine in 1 under with birdies on the three par 5s.

‘‘I'm try to hit as many low shots as possible, not just into the wind, but also when it’s across and sometimes even down,’’ Henderson said. ‘‘And just play in the back of my stance, keep my hands low.’’

Lexi Thompson was 3 under along with Ryann O'Toole, Danielle Kang, Luna Sobron Galmes, and Wei-Ling Hsu. Thompson and Sobron Galmes had 10 holes to play in the second round, and Hsu had nine left. O’Toole had a 69, and Kang shot 73.

Brittany Lincicome, the winner last year in a playoff over Thompson, was 2 under with nine holes left. Michelle Wie was even par for the week with nine holes to go.

European — Rory McIlroy was within sight of a first title in 17 months after the third round of the Dubai Desert Classic, where he lay only one shot behind surprise leader Li Haotong.

McIlroy, who finished his second round in the morning, surprisingly struggled for the first time seven rounds into his comeback from a three-month layoff, and was 1 over par at the turn in the third round. The four-time major champion then recovered with five birdies on the back nine for a 4-under 68 and 19 under overall that put him one behind Li, who shot a bogey-free 64 at Emirates Golf Club.

Li, the highest-ranked Chinese male player in the world at No. 60, produced a brilliant display of iron play and putting to be in great position to add to his only previous European Tour win, the 2016 China Open.