List takes 1-shot lead at Honda Classic with Woods 7 back
Luke List hits out of a bunker on the third hole during the third round of the Honda Classic golf tournament, Saturday, Feb. 24, 2018 in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
By Doug Ferguson, Associated Press
PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. (AP) — Luke List made birdie from the bunker on the final hole Saturday for a 4-under 66 and a one-shot lead in the Honda Classic as he goes after his first PGA Tour victory.
Right behind was Justin Thomas, the PGA Tour player of the year.
Still in the mix was Tiger Woods.
List bounced back from his only bogey of the round on the par-3 17th hole by blasting out of the bunker to tap-in range on the par-5 18th to move past Thomas and Webb Simpson. This is the second time he's had at least a share of the 54-hole lead. The other was at the Sanderson Farms Championship in Mississippi in the fall of 2016, which was held the same week as a World Golf Championship in Shanghai.
List was at 7-under 203.
Thomas was never far away from the lead, and the final hour changed everything. The PGA champion had three birdies over his last five holes for a 65 to match the low round of the toughest tournament this year on the PGA Tour.
Particularly impressive was that two of those birdies were on the par-3 15th and par-3 17th, the second- and third-toughest holes at PGA National on Saturday. He essentially hit the same shot, a cut 6-iron into the wind to right pins and made 15-footers.
Simpson, the former U.S. Open champion who has not won in more than four years, played bogey-free for a 66, a card kept clean by a remarkable bunker save with an awkward stance behind the 15th green.
Woods broke 70 for the first time on the PGA Tour since August 2015 — a span of only 12 rounds because of three back surgeries — and his 1-under 69 at least raised his hopes. He was seven back. "I've got a shot going into tomorrow," Woods said.
Ten players were ahead of him.
List has the lead, though it probably won't feel like one with six players separated by only three shots. Tommy Fleetwood of England holed out from the fourth fairway for eagle and finished strong with a birdie on the 16th and an eagle on the final hole with an approach that rolled out to 8 feet. He shot a 67 and was at 205 along with Jamie Lovemark, whose round was spoiled by one shot.
Lovemark holed a chip for birdie from just off the 12th green to become the first player to reach 7 under. On the next hole from the back of the 13th green, his chip from 70 feet broke toward the middle of the cup, dove into the left side and spun out.
But his 7-iron into the wind and over the water on the 15th ballooned in the air and never had a chance, leading to double bogey.
Alex Noren of Sweden, who lost in a playoff at Torrey Pines, hit 3-wood that rolled out to 4 feet from the pin on No. 18 for an eagle and a 65. He was three behind.
Woods has been progressively better every day at PGA National, except for one hole — a double bogey each of the last two days — that slowed him. Saturday was an exception. He made his two bogeys on the notorious par 3s on the back nine, but he putted for birdie 14 out of 18 holes, and only one of those putts was longer than 25 feet.
"Probably the highest score I could have shot today," Woods said.
The course was playing slightly easier and the scoring average was at 70.9. Some of that was expected after the cut has been made, though it helped not to have as much foot traffic on greens that don't have a lot of grass, a wind not quite as forceful and more accessible pins.
List was playing in the final group with Lovemark, neither of whom have won on the PGA Tour, though they didn't have to deal with the crowds. They were following Woods, and as the final group reached the eighth hole, there was no more than about 50 fans.
That might change slightly on Sunday with Thomas in the final group.