While Tiger Woods supplied an electric moment with a hole-in-one in the Phoenix Open, Steve Jones outplayed everyone for the third straight day.
Jones birdied the first three holes and three of the last four for a 6-under-par 65 Saturday to drop to 22 under 191 after the third round. His score is the second-lowest for 54 holes in PGA Tour history, two shy of John Cook's 189 last year at Memphis. Jones, the defending U.S. Open champion, needs a 66 Sunday to tie Mike Souchak's tour record of 257, set at the 1955 Texas Open.And yet, Jones says he isn't driving well - even though he got the last of his eight birdies when he drove the green on the 332-yard 17th hole and two-putted from 120 feet.
"It's not a great ball-striking week," Jones said. "But I'm kind of being smart around the course, trying to hit it in the right spot and scoring on the par-5s, which has helped me."
Woods, thrust into the background by his relatively poor showing, aced No. 16.
Many in a crowd estimated at 121,500 were seated on the hillside behind the green, adjacent to a hospitality area. A roar audible hundreds of yards away broke out when Woods' 9-iron shot from the tee 155 yards away took one big bounce, one tiny one and dropped in.
"You have a short iron in your hand, and today you had a backboard right behind the hole, and if you hit it too far, you could spin it back," Woods said. "And I got a perfect number. It was just a comfortable 9-iron."
As Woods left the tee area, fans began to shower it with beer cups. One onlooker ran onto the fairway, then began bowing from the waist in an "I'm-not-worthy" salute as marshals shooed him away. Woods never saw him.
"I was kind of oblivious to a lot of things at that moment," he said.
The ace, Woods' ninth and the third by a PGA pro this year, dropped him to 9-under. He finished at 203 - 12 shots off the lead.
Jones, playing in the final twosome with David Duval, heard the noise but shook it off in the middle of a string of birdies on the 15th, 16th and 17th holes. A Phoenix resident, he said he's accustomed to the noisy galleries.
"I thought somebody holed out a long chip," Jones said. "The crowd, when they're walking to the green, they're roaring; they're walking off the green, they're roaring. We had no idea who it was."
Duval, tied with Tommy Tolles for second when the round began, also shot a 65. Duval said he wasn't discouraged to be five shots behind Jones.
"If you had given me 17-under before the week started, I'd have told you I would take it and win by three or four," Duval said. "But it's amazing - the players on this tour are so good. He is the Open champion, and he sure is playing like one."
Fulton Allem, Rick Fehr and Tolles were four shots behind Duval at 200, with Nick Price, Dan Forsman and two-time Phoenix champion Mark Calcavecchia grouped at 201, 10 shots behind Jones.
Johnny Miller (twice) and Hal Sutton had 196s after three rounds in Phoenix, but both were playing on other courses. Jones was on the tougher TPC of Scottsdale stadium course, in use since 1987.
If he shoots par today, he will set a tournament record. Mark Calcavecchia set the modern Phoenix record of 21-under in 1989.
Jones turned back charges by Duval, who had four birdies on the back nine, and Allem, who was 5-under at the turn and then played the back nine in par-36.
Jones showed he was serious about his promise to go for the flag all day. He had just one bogey in the first two rounds, but two Saturday: on Nos. 8 and 14.
Steve Jones 62-64-65-191
David Duval 66-65-65-196
Fulton Allem 67-67-66-200
Rick Fehr 66-68-66-200
Tommy Tolles 66-65-69-200
Nick Price 64-72-65-201
Dan Forsman 69-67-65-201
Mark Calcavecchia 68-66-67-201
Don Pooley 69-67-66-202
Woody Austin 69-65-68-202
Jesper Parnevik 66-66-70-202
Paul Azinger 69-63-70-202
Scott McCarron 71-68-64-203
Tiger Woods 68-68-67-203