GRAND BLANC TOWNSHIP, Mich. — Tiger Woods drove on adjacent fairways twice on the back nine, hit a cup of beer in a spectator's hand, got rattled by a bug and was relegated to shaping some shots around trees and under branches.
He still managed to shoot a 7-under 65 on Saturday in the third round of the Buick Open, giving him a 17-under 199 total and a one-stroke lead when Michael Letzig (68) double bogeyed the last hole.
"The whole idea of the game is put the ball in the hole, and I did that," Woods said. "But as far as controlling my ball, I didn't do that."
Woods opened his first tournament since missing the cut at the British Open with a 71 after what he said was probably his worst putting day.
When he was eight shots behind first-round leader Steve Lowery, Woods said he couldn't make up ground in one day at Warwick Hills.
It took him two.
Woods roared back into contention with a 9-under 63 in the second round and took the lead with his 65 Saturday.
"Eight back, at a U.S. Open, you can make that up in one round," he said. "You can't make it up around here."
He moved into a tie for the lead with Letzig at 17 under with a 33-foot birdie putt at No. 17.
Woods pumped his fist, shouted "Yeah!" and the traditionally rowdy gallery roared so loud he couldn't communicate with caddie Steve Williams.
"It was pretty exciting," said Woods, making his ninth Buick Open appearance. "The people here have been absolutely incredible, so supportive of this event over the years. That's one of the reasons why we love coming here."
Letzig hit a poor shot out of a greenside bunker at No. 18, barely clearing it and leaving him with a tricky lie. He fell to 16 under while Woods was on the practice range.
"I don't care," Letzig said when asked if it would be tough to forget what happened on the last hole. "I'm one shot out of the lead."
Based on history, that's probably an insurmountable deficit behind Woods.
The superstar has a 35-1 record on the PGA Tour when he has the outright lead after 54 holes. The lone loss in this situation came when he was 20 in his third tournament as a pro to Ed Fiori in the 1996 Quad City Classic.
WOMEN'S BRITISH OPEN: At Lytham St. Annes, England, Catriona Matthew opened a three-stroke lead in the Women's British Open, shooting a 1-under 71 in the third round.
Playing 10 weeks after giving birth to her second child, the 39-year-old Scot had a 4-under 212 total at Royal Lytham and St. Annes.
Christina Kim (71) was second at 1 under, and defending champion Jiyai Shin (68) was another stroke back along with Ai Miyazato (70). Miyazato is coming off her first LPGA Tour victory last week in France in the Evian Masters. Michelle Wie, trying to earn a spot on the U.S. Solheim Cup team, was 7 under after a 74.
U.S. SENIOR OPEN: At Carmel, Ind., Fred Funk shot a 4-under 68 to take a one-stroke lead over Greg Norman and Joey Sindelar into the final round of the U.S. Senior Open.
Funk had a 13-under 203 total on the Crooked Stick course. Norman also had a 68, and Sindelar shot a 70. Tennessee amateur Tim Jackson, the overnight leader, was three shots back at 10-under after a 73.
Mark O'Meara (68) was 9 under, and Russ Cochran had a course-record 64 to join Scott Simpson (68) and Provo's Dan Forsman (71) at 8 under.
MORAVIA SILESIA OPEN: At Celadna, Czech Republic, England's Steve Webster shot a 3-under 69 to take a one-stroke lead in the European tour's Moravia Silesia Open.
Webster had an 11-under 205 total on the Prosper Golf Resort's Old Course. England's Graeme Storm (70) and Spain's Ignacio Garrido (69) were tied for second.