Champion Woods three clear in final round at Doral
MIAMI, Mar 5 (Reuters) Tiger Woods closed in on his 48th PGA Tour victory, moving three shots clear midway through the Doral Championship final round today.
The world number one, two ahead overnight in his title defence at the Blue Monster course, reeled off birdies at the first, fifth and seventh to get to 20 under par.
PGA Tour rookie Camilo Villegas of Colombia and American David Toms were tied for second place, also after nine holes.
Sweden's Daniel Chopra, playing with Woods in the final pairing, was a further stroke back in third at 16 under.
Phil Mickelson, who led by two going into the final round last year before being overhauled by Woods, was nine off the pace after double-bogeying the par-three ninth, where he found water off the tee.
Woods, chasing his third title of the year in five starts, tightened his hold on the tournament with a birdie at the par-five first.
A prodigious drive over 300 yards at the par-four fifth and an approach to four feet set up another and he picked up his third shot at the par-four seventh, despite missing his sixth fairway in a row.
From the rough, where he was fortunate his ball had bounced back from the trees, the 10-times major winner struck his approach to eight feet before making the putt to get to 20 under.
Bidding to become the first player since fellow American Raymond Floyd in 1981 to successfully defend at Doral, Woods then parred eight and nine to reach the turn in three-under 33.
Red-hot favourite for the title all week, Woods has won 33 times in 36 attempts on the PGA Tour when holding at least a share of the 54-hole Among the early starters, world number three Retief Goosen fired an eight-birdie 66 to finish at 11-under 277, level with second-ranked Vijay Singh who closed with a 67.
REUTERS VJ RAI0422