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Tiger Woods is going for broke and it’s working at The Open

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The Big Cat is hitting more drivers and he’s made a big move up the leaderboard.

147th Open Championship - Round Three Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images

Tiger Woods is getting aggressive at the British Open it’s paying off in the third round. Woods is making a charge up the leaderboard and positioning himself for a mid-60s round that will have him in contention come Sunday.

Woods spent the first two days at Carnoustie playing it safe and conservative. The burnt-out and fiery conditions didn’t make it the worst strategy. It’s how he won an Open in 2006 at a similarly baked-out Hoylake. But it also made it a tougher task to go low. He was hitting into greens from wayyyy back with smaller margins for error and less chances for birdies. On Friday, he had only one approach shot inside 215 yards on the entire back nine. There was less trouble off the tee, but he wasn’t converting a ton of birdie chances playing holes from 200-plus yards away. He posted two even-par rounds.

A prime example of this came on Thursday at the 9th hole, where Tiger hung way back off the tee. His tee shot was almost 190 yards behind Dustin Johnson, who obviously went big with the driver. The course was running like concrete so you could understand Tiger trying to play less club, but he’s obviously at a big disadvantage to DJ in this one-hole-sample

Carnoustie has been softened a little bit from Friday rains, but Tiger is also making a concerted effort to just go at it more. He pulled driver on the 9th on Saturday and bombed one, offline, into the junk. But he didn’t have all that long a way to the green and was able to hack out and put his ball into the middle of the putting surface. He converted the birdie chance that yielded.

That closed a 3-under 33 front nine that pushed Woods from the middle of the leaderboard to just outside the top 10.

Woods pulled driver again on the 10th hole, pumping it down the middle and setting up this dart from close range. Tiger flipped it to just a foot and tapped in for birdie to start the back nine.

The driver came out again on the 11th hole and he nuked it to the front edge of the green, setting up a potential eagle to tie the lead. The result was a short birdie, his third straight after hitting three straight drivers. He has moved 26 spots up the leaderboard and is one off the lead.

Tiger’s driver is never going to be his best club. After keeping it in the bag the entire first round, he used it for the first time on No. 2 on Friday morning and promptly pumped it off the planet right. That risk always exists with Tiger’s driver. But it’s Saturday and he’s trying to make a move, so he’s gotten much more aggressive. He’s hit five drivers through his first 11 holes and it’s paying off at the moment.

Now that he’s just one back, he has the luxury of playing the brutal closing stretch the way he wants to, instead of desperately trying to pull off a chasedown to be in position for Sunday.


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