Alex Noren will carry a one-shot lead into the final round of the 2018 Farmers Insurance Open after firing a three-under 69 on Saturday to reach 11-under overall at Torrey Pines Golf Course in San Diego, California.
Noren faces no shortage of competition, though. There are 23 other players within five shots of the lead after Round 3, including Ryan Palmer (-10), J.B. Holmes (-9), Justin Rose (-8), Jason Day (-8) and Jon Rahm (-7).
Meanwhile, the returning Tiger Woods (-3) continued to struggle mightily off the tee but still managed to post a two-under round thanks to a strong short game and terrific putting.
Although there's been a fierce battle atop the leaderboard for the first three days, most of the focus has remained on Woods in his first official PGA Tour start since this event one year ago.
The 14-time major champion has yet to find a rhythm off the tee this week. He hit just 21.4 percent of the fairways Saturday, including some mindbogglingly wayward drives over his first nine holes, and that led to him finding only 50 percent of the greens in regulation.
Yet, the improvement in his short game from his previous few comeback attempts paired with some nice work on the greens has kept him competitive, albeit out of contention for the win.
The PGA Tour highlighted one of his numerous key chips:
PGA TOUR @PGATOUR
Short game has been on point today for @TigerWoods. 💯 #QuickHits https://t.co/bLhWcd1IkZ2018-1-27 22:49:20
ESPN Stats & Info relayed some notable numbers from his first three rounds:
ESPN Stats & Info @ESPNStatsInfo
Tiger Woods hit just 3 of 14 fairways for the 2nd straight day, but was able to shoot a 2-under 70 by averaging 1.67 putts per green hit in regulation for a second day in a row. https://t.co/3B1CdeMuyI2018-1-27 23:18:13
Elsewhere, Palmer had an opportunity to pull away from the pack after giving himself a two-stroke edge with an eagle on No. 13. He carded two bogeys over the next three holes, however, which helped create a massive logjam at the top with 18 holes to play.
Golf Digest provided a look at Palmer's long-range eagle putt on the 13th:
Golf Digest @GolfDigest
Boom! This long eagle putt at the 13th by @RyanPalmerPGA (-12) gives him a two-shot lead. https://t.co/DiKgvydnv62018-1-27 22:38:06
His inability to capitalize on that potential tournament-changing moment opened the door for Noren to grab the lead after the third round.
The 35-year-old Swede took full advantage by tallying three birdies over his final six holes, featuring a near eagle on the 18th to finish his day.
Justin Ray of Golf Channel showcased why Noren's work is far from done, though:
Justin Ray @JustinRayGC
Win percentage by 54-hole PGA Tour lead since 2013: 1 shot: 24.6% 2 shots: 35.9% 3 shots: 38.5% 4+ shots: 81.3% Alex Noren leads by 1 entering final round.2018-1-28 00:20:42
Looking ahead, the tournament is wide open heading into Sunday, especially with the favorable scoring conditions expected in sunny San Diego. Holmes' seven-under 65 on Saturday shows it's possible to post a super-low score to charge up the leaderboard.
A win by Noren would be his first on the PGA Tour after nine career triumphs on the European Tour. That said, Rahm is another golfer to keep an eye on in the final round as the second-ranked player in the world attempts to take another step to solidify himself among golf's elite.