PACIFIC PALISADES, California – When Peter Malnati and Tiger Woods went off the 12th tee at Riviera Country Club, Malnati asked the 14-time big winner if he was nervous to play with and informed Woods that he had a bucket hat to make him look less scary.
Woods chuckled. "Yes, I'm scared, but I handle it well."
Did he ever do.
Woods played their first four holes in Saturday's third round of 5-under for the second time since 2003, but still has a lot of work ahead of him if he will catch Justin Thomas when the game resumes on Sunday at the Genesis Open.
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Thomas addressed the first hole to take a one-stroke lead of 1
It was a day that began light and early for Malnati, who plucked the phone into a socket that did not lay out and left him happy to wake up without the help of an alarm. But the rest of his day turned out to be unforgettable. Malnati, a 31-year-old journeyman with a PGA Tour win to his credit, embedded a second round 69 to end on 1-under 141 and make 36-hole cut and tracked the score on his own phone with a clue predicting he would be together with Woods, his childhood hero, for the first time in his career.
Woods had to finish his second round early in the morning, when it was so cold that Thomas complained he couldn't feel his toes and fingers a little. Woods made birdie at the last hole to shoot even par 71. With two groups remaining on the course in the second round, Malnati checked the score again and said he and Woods were T-52. The next thing he knew, he was given the task for his trio of No. 10 at 3:40. (Cody Gribble, who was five over in seven holes, released last place among the 76 players to make the cut, rounded out triangular.)
"Teenage I dreamed of it," Malnati said.
But when Malnati arrived at 315-yard 10 th holes, the best short par 4 on the tour, the nerves set in.
"All thought, the 10th teen should not be frightening. You will not hit a pond or beyond the border, but I shook," he said. "It was the most amazing energy. It was so cool."
Malnati described what happened over the nearest holes as "surreal, amazing, and nuts he played," referring to Wood's red hot start of the birdie eagle. birdie-birdie, his best start since the second round of Buick Open 2009. Of the 5-wood Woods, launched from 253 meters to 10 feet on the way to the eagle at the 11th hole, Malanti said, "That shot was super-clear to him."
"I could see why the guy was so big," Malnati said. "It seems he will never hit a bad iron shot."
When Woods preserved a 14-foot birdie putt at No. 13 to climb to 6 under for the tournament, the audience exclaimed with joy. The group pressed against the dark, Woods, Malnati and Gribble as a group of golfers at dusk, trying to complete as many holes as possible before they ran out of light. When asked if he wanted him to continue if not for the dark, Woods said: "Without a doubt, how I felt, how I played, I wanted to play as many holes as possible. Peter was great, he went over to 17 teas and dropped so we could get 17 in, so it was very nice that he did something like that. "
Woods eventually chose to wait until the morning before playing his fourth shot at par-5 17th from just green cards.
His dry start lifted him to the T-14, but still seven strokes from the pace set by Thomas.
Games are expected to resume Sunday at 6: 45:00 local time hoping to declare a winner at the end of the day and avoiding a second straight Monday finish.
"It just sounds cold and dark," Malnati said of Sunday's sunrise. "Can we get a second opinion?"
Woods radiated that concept.
"It will be a long," Woods said. "Get up early and start working on it and stay there and get ready. It's just going to be a lot. And in recent days, it's definitely testing your body."
But it didn't take long for Malnati to realize the bright side of tomorrow's marathon golf. He still had 10 + holes in the third round before him with Woods and then a second 18 to learn from one of his heroes because they will not be switched in the last round. Malnati noted that he saw Woods some shots – actually six – but he had Woods just where he wanted him.
"I'll kick on her ass," Malnati said. "You look. He's scared."
Actually, Woods said himself. He is terrified.