After years in the rough, Tiger Woods gets his game back

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Former world number one Woods, playing his fourth US PGA Tour event since returning in January from spinal fusion surgery last April, fired a three-under par 68 for a four-under total of 138. It was nothing short of a medical Hail Mary.

Being close to him on the leaderboard is an entirely different dynamic.

"There was a while there where I didn't know if I was ever going to be out there again in the capacity of a professional player".

Yet here we are.

"Like this" is signs of the previous version of Tiger Woods. Just a year ago Adam Hadwin of Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan won the Valspar Championship for his first PGA win.

Snedeker, who also was paired with Woods two weeks ago at the Honda Classic (where Woods finished 12th), is seeing something very familiar: the old Woods. Woods has not finished in the top 10 since 2015, but he already has two top-25 finishes in three starts this year. The Englishman eagled the par-4 No. 9.

"He's a huge draw and he plays good this week and the excitement going into the Masters is going to be massive because I don't know if any of us were really thinking he was a true favorite there and he might be after one more round of golf", Adam Scott said. "Shots he's trying to hit, he's pulling them off".

"Other than that, it's been a pretty clean three days as I feel really good over everything".

He spent Saturday playing one group behind Tiger, hearing every roar of the crowd when the fan favorite delivered a chip-in birdie or long-range putt. There was a swagger. Not that he minded.

"I started smiling, " Snedeker said. I was hoping something to take the pain away, I should get up out of bed and walk again. Durant, a victor three weeks ago at the Chubb Classic, shot 66 and was one shot back alongside McCarron (68), who missed a par putt from about 3 feet on the par-4 14th as part of an up-and-down back nine. He'll be paired with Woods again on Sunday in the second-to-last twosome. But this was the first time he has holed a shot from off the green this year.

"Loud as I've heard it in a long time".

He said that during his worst times he often thought about life before his back injury. "Just kind of vintage Tiger". "The more time he has, he's going to feel better". While that performance initially tempered short-term expectations, he worked out those kinks in rapid fashion and now his all-around form is impressive. When he left the course, he was in a four-way tie at 138 with Paul Casey, Brandt Snedeker and Ryan Palmer. "There's so many guys who played their way back up into this tournament". He has gone on to win 62 times, and 89.8 percent conversion percentage.

It's been 54 months since Woods' last victory at the 2013 WGC - Bridgestone Invitational and the now 42-year old is set to dispel any criticism, and not that he has not already done in 13 rounds this new season, with what would be a 80th PGA Tour success. It's fun to hear the crowd going insane again and realize how excited we are in having him back out here and playing the way he is.

"I didn't want to go there".

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