KAPALUA, Hawaii — Gary Woodland made a 65-foot eagle putt and finished with a birdie for a five-under-par 68 to keep his three-shot lead in the Tournament of Champions on Saturday.
Rory McIlroy briefly caught him for the lead until the birdies stopped falling. He shot 68 and will play in the final group on Sunday.
They were tied late in the third round when McIlroy missed a good birdie chance on two par-5s at No. 15 and No. 18. Woodland reached the front of the 15th green and watched his putt up the slope and into the grain drop for eagle, with the pin still in the hole.
He holed a 12-foot birdie putt on the toughest pin position at the 18th — front and right — to end the day at 17-under 202.
Marc Leishman, who made a double bogey in the opening round and a triple bogey on Friday, limited the damage to only one bogey. He had a 68 and was well in range, four shots behind. Xander Schauffele (68) and Bryson DeChambeau (70) were five back.
McIlroy got through his round without a bogey. He had a close call on the 16th, when he tried to atone for the missed birdie on the previous hole by going at the flag and landing just over the green. He faced one of the fastest chips on the course, down the slope toward the Pacific horizon, and left it 12 feet short. He made his par to at least stay in range.
“I probably pushed a little too hard, and it didn’t really work out for me,” McIlroy said. “I just have to go about my business. I didn’t make a bogey today, so I’ll make that a goal tomorrow.”
The outcome still will depend on Woodland, a three-time winner on the PGA Tour. His only mistake on Saturday was coming up just short of the green on No. 12 and missing a 5-foot par putt.
Woodland was part of a crowded leaderboard Friday when he pulled away with five straight birdies. This time, all he needed was one big putt. He laughed when it dropped, although he said it had nothing to do with surprise.
“I just saw somebody’s face in the background. They weren’t too happy that the ball went in, so it made me laugh,” he said. “I enjoyed that.”