Tiger Woods creates buzz with 66 at British Open

Tiger Woods watches his putt on the 18th hole. (Alastair Grant/AP)

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland — For 20 minutes on a warm Saturday afternoon at the British Open, Tiger Woods’ name was back atop a leaderboard at a major championship and Carnoustie was buzzing.

Not much in golf compares with Woods on a charge. So when he rolled in a 40-foot birdie putt on No. 9, stiffed an approach inside two feet for birdie at No. 10, and nearly drove onto the green to set up a tap-in birdie at No. 11, there was a feeling something special was happening.

Then three holes later, Woods two-putted for birdie at No. 14 and there he was, right at the top of the giant yellow leaderboards dotted all around Carnoustie, tied for the lead with five players at 6 under.

"It would be … better on Sunday," Woods said after his 5-under 66 to get back into the mix. "But I’m right there."

A bogey at the par-3 16th stalled the momentum, and Woods had to scramble for a par at the last after landing his drive on the bank of the Barry Burn and into the deep rough.

His 66 wasn’t even the best of the day — Justin Rose shot 64, Francesco Molinari 65 — but it likely will be what fans talk about when they leave. With two hours left in the third round, Woods was three shots off the lead and in contention for his first major in 10 years.

"It’s been a few years since I’ve felt like this," Woods said.

The sun was peeking out of the clouds and Woods was walking up the first fairway when one spectator, a beer in his hand, shouted: "Go on Tiger, we got your back."

It certainly felt that way when the deep gallery surrounding the first green roared their approval at Woods holing a 10-foot putt for par, after he sent his approach right of the green.

It was one of the few times Woods was out of position all afternoon in a round where he hit driver six times, compared with three times in the second round and once on Thursday.

"You’re the man, Tiger, everyone knows it," shouted another spectator flanking the fairway on the sixth hole. And Woods’ playing partner sensed an aura around the 14-time major champion.

Woods was "back at the top of his game," said Shaun Morris, who got Woods to sign four new gloves after the round and planned to give them to his friends back home in South Africa.

The last time Woods led or held a share of the lead at the end of a round at a major was in 2012, at the U.S. PGA Championship. On Saturday, it happened during a round, and only briefly.

"I didn’t know I was tied for the lead," Woods said. "I knew I was within one. But I was right there."

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