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Woods climbs into contention at Pebble Beach

Tiger Woods tees off on the ninth hole at the Pebble Beach Golf Links during the third round of the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am in Pebble Beach, California, on Saturday. (REUTERS)


Tiger Woods, who is seeking his first win on the PGA Tour in over two years, vastly improved his putting in the third round to vault to near the top of the leaderboard at Pebble Beach.

Woods shot a five-under par 67 on the Pebble Beach Golf Links to pull within three shots of South Korean clubhouse leader Charlie Wi at the $6.4 million Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.

“Today the putts were going in. I had a nice little run there,” said Woods. “The bad days and bad shots aren’t as bad as they use to be.”

Woods began the day six shots back of second-round leader Wi. Starting from the 10th tee, Woods shot a 35 on the back nine and a sizzling 32 on the front side.

He needed just 27 putts in the third round, rolling in five birdies in the final six holes on the front nine.

“I made far more putts,” said Woods. “I really managed my game well.”

The swing and confidence appear to be back in Woods’ game thanks in part to improvements he has made with his swing coach.

But Woods credits his late father, Earl Woods, with teaching him how to putt.

“I have written a lot of my dad’s teachings down over the years,” Woods said. “I have tried different styles under Butch (Harmon) and Hank (Haney), but when push comes to shove I revert back.”

Woods made the turn at four-under for the day after back-to-back birdies on No. 17 and 18.

The 14-time Major winner also birdied three in a row beginning with his fourth hole of the day, the par-four 13th.

Woods shot a credible two-under 68 at Monterey Peninsula course on Friday and entered the third round at six-under, six strokes back of leader Wi.

Woods sank two long putts for birdies on his front nine, including a 22-footer on the par-three 17th.

“I have been in the same situation as Charlie is in and it’s fun. I enjoy it,” Woods said.

Woods is chasing his 72nd PGA Tour win and his first since September 2009. He did chalk up his first win in two years in December, but that came in the limited-field Chevron World Challenge, an invitational tournament that Woods stages to provide funds for his charity foundation.

Those that make the cut, the top 60 and ties, now head for the final round at Pebble Beach Links, where Woods has authored some dramatic finishes, including a brilliant rally from a seven-shot deficit in the final round in 2000.

Later that year, Woods captured the US Open at Pebble Beach by a dominating 15 strokes.