WINDERMERE, Florida (Reuters) - Tournament host Tiger Woods battled nausea and fever but soldiered through the third round of the Hero World Challenge to shoot a three-under-par 69 at Isleworth on Saturday.
Woods, in last place in the 18-player field, coughed repeatedly into a towel and vomited along the third fairway, but carried on in his return to competition after an absence of some four months due to back pain.
The 14-times major winner closed with three consecutive birdies to the delight of the large gallery following him at the layout that was his longtime home course.
“I wasn’t doing too good. But I thought I could hang in there,” Woods whispered to reporters after the round, explaining he had lost his voice.
“I wasn’t in pain. I just was a little bit under the weather,” said Woods, who played Friday after running a 102-degree fever.
“Today was nausea and the vomiting before and during the round. I‘m taking antibiotics and hoping they’ll kick in.”
Woods finished with a flourish, belting an eight-iron 170 yards to within four feet of the cup at the 18th and made birdie.
Despite his rip-roaring finish, Woods remained last in the tournament that benefits his foundation at even-par 216.
Woods knelt before hitting on the first tee and coughed into a towel before setting off.
Befitting the old golfing adage ‘beware the sick golfer’, Woods birdied the first hole by sinking an eight-foot putt that his mother, Kultida, urged in with a commanding “turn, turn.”
That brought a beaming smile from her, but it was not easy going for Woods on a hot, sunny day at the exclusive enclave.
Woods, in the midst of another swing change, stumbled again with his chipping, which cost him numerous strokes in the first two rounds.
From the rough a few yards off the left side of the green at the par-four sixth, Woods chunked his chip, moving the ball only about a foot and ended up with a bogey.
He showed more yips on his chips on the back nine before mounting his explosive finish.
Woods was asked if he could take away any positives from the difficult day.
“Not bad. Only 15 back,” he joked hoarsely.
Editing by Gene Cherry