AKRON, Ohio – With an elite field chasing the lead, top-ranked Tiger Woods decided to play keep-away.
Already up by a staggering seven shots through 36 holes thanks to a career-tying best of 61 in the second round, Woods shot a solid 2-under 68 Saturday in the Bridgestone Invitational to maintain a seven-stroke lead entering Sunday’s final round of the World Golf Championships event.
“It ended up being a dead push for the day,” he said of the margin. “That’s not too bad, either.”
It was as if Woods was turning around and daring the world’s best players to come after him.
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“You know, today was a day that I didn’t quite have it,” said Woods, who was at 15-under 195. “But I scored. And that’s the name of the game, posting a number, and I did today. I grinded my way around that golf course.”
Henrik Stenson (67) of Sweden was second at 8 under and Jason Dufner (67) was third at 7 under.
“It’s kind of tough to pick up seven or eight shots on Tiger around here,” Stenson said. “It would take something spectacular on my behalf or any of the other guys around me, and obviously a very, very poor round for him.”
Woods is 41-2 when he has the outright lead entering the final round of a PGA Tour event.
A victory would be his eighth at Firestone Country Club and in the Bridgestone and its forerunner, the NEC Invitational.
“I’ll just go out there and execute my game plan,” Woods said. “It all starts with what the weather is doing and then I build it from there.”
Woods seems to be building momentum for the PGA Championship, which starts Thursday at Oak Hill in Pittsford, N.Y.
“Any time you can go into a major tournament or any tournament with a win under your belt, it’s nice,” said Woods, who has won 14 majors.
Woods is dominating a field that includes 48 of the top 50 players in the Official World Golf Ranking.
Ryan Moore (70) of Puyallup was tied for 17th place at even par.
• Inbee Park of South Korea wanted tough conditions at St. Andrews in Scotland to try to make up an eight-shot deficit in her pursuit of a fourth consecutive major this year. It turned out to be too tough for anyone.
The third round of the Women’s British Open was suspended by gusts that topped 40 mph and kept golf balls from staying put on the greens. After waiting six hours for the wind to calm, players were told to return Sunday for a marathon finish.
Leader Na Yeon Choi of South Korea was at 10-under 134 and was idle Saturday. Park was at 3 under after playing four holes in her third round.
• Gary Woodland leads the PGA Tour Reno-Tahoe Open with 37 points after three rounds of the modified-Stableford scoring event in Reno, Nev. Brendan Steele is second with 30 points.
Ex-Washington Huskies player Richard H. Lee (18 points) was tied for 29th place, Jeff Gove (14) was tied for 49th and former Husky Chris Williams (7) was in 67th place.
• Tom Pernice Jr. moved into position for his second title on the 50-and-older Champions Tour, shooting a 7-under 65 to take a two-stroke lead over Tom Kite (65) in the 3M Championship in Blaine, Minn. Pernice, 53, was at 13-under 131 for 36 holes.
Kirk Triplett (64), a graduate of Pullman High School, had the best round of the day and was tied for sixth place at 9 under.